I was asked to review a paper for a rather important Journal in my field (engineering discipline). The editor (professor) who assigned the review to me is based at the same university as the first author (PhD student). The two do not come from the same chair, but the university is quite small and it is likely they do know one another personally.
Furthermore, the editor suggested a meeting to discuss my opinion on the manuscript in person. He is currently in my area. Since I know him from conferences it would be difficult to decline his meeting request.
So now I am not sure if this represents a conflict in interests or if I am being too paranoid here? If this is critical, how should I react?