"The White House heralded Obama's call with Rouhani as a milestone of last-minute diplomacy. But officials began planting the seeds for the exchange months earlier."
Top National Security Council officials began planting the seeds for such an exchange months earlier—holding a series of secret meetings and telephone calls and convening an assortment of Arab monarchs, Iranian exiles and former U.S. diplomats to clandestinely ferry messages between Washington and Tehran, according to current and former U.S., Middle Eastern and European officials briefed on the effort.
Mr. Obama had empowered the administration's top Iran specialist, Puneet Talwar, for some time to have direct meetings and phone conversations with Iranian Foreign Ministry officials, those people say. Some of the contacts took place in Oman's ancient capital, Muscat, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say, which sits less than 200 miles across the Gulf's azure waters from the Iranian coastline.