Diplomats from a so-called group of like-minded nations met in Rome on Tuesday to discuss further sanctions against Iran, diplomatic sources said.
The closed-door meeting is taking place under the auspices of the Italian foreign ministry and participants considered it a technical meeting, an Italian diplomatic source said.
Diplomats said it would consider the arguments around a possible EU oil embargo against Iran. A decision may be made when EU foreign ministers next meet in January.
No decisions are expected to emerge from Tuesday's meeting.
Participants are countries that have imposed bilateral sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program that go beyond U.N. Security Council sanctions.
The group includes the United States, the European Union and several European nations, Australia, Japan, South Korea and other countries but it was not clear if all of them were represented. The United States is attending.
The small informal group has been meeting for two years and its goal is to share information and discuss the next steps in the sanctions process.
The United States has long banned Iranian crude imports and last week Congress voted through restrictions on dealing with the Iranian central bank. The White House must decide whether or not to grant waivers to major Iranian oil importers like China, India and South Korea that need to deal with the bank to pay for Iran's crude.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella, additional reporting by Roberto Landucci in Rome)