Thursday, September 24, 1998 Published at 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
UK seeks Rushdie guarantees
Salman Rushdie has lived under police protection for nine years
Britain is hoping for guarantees for the safety of Mr Rushdie, who has been living under police protection since 1989.
The meeting at the United Nations in New York is the highest level contact between the two countries in four years - and comes amid hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough.
"We will be looking for a real commitment or guarantee for Rushdie's safety," Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett said of Mr Cook's meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.
"We have yet to see how the Iranians wish to express that if they wish to express that at all. We don't know what they are putting on the table," he added.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said on Tuesday the Salman Rushdie affair should be regarded as "completely finished", but officials admitted this did not include the lifting of the edict.
A bounty of more than £1m has been placed on Mr Rushdie's head by Islamic fundamentalists.
The Iranian Government has no power to cancel the fatwa, as it was issued by Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini shortly before he died.
An end to the dispute would allow London to restore diplomatic relations as the West's links with Iran slowly improve.
The UK Foreign Office has always said ensuring Mr Rushdie's safety in Britain is a "fundamental point of principle".