Brazil’s Lula holds ‘last chance’ nuclear talks in Iran

TEHRAN - Iran and Brazil vowed to boost ties Sunday as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began a visit the West says may be Tehran’s last chance to avoid new UN sanctions over its atomic programme.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 16 May 2010, 8:20 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:58 AM

Talks Sunday morning between Lula and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad included the nuclear standoff between major powers and Iran, a source close to the talks told AFP.

“The two leaders did discuss the nuclear issue which is a very important item on their agenda,” the source said.

A member of the Brazilian delegation, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that Brazil remained “optimistic” about the outcome of the nuclear talks.

“There are still ongoing negotiations and we have to wait until the end of the talks tomorrow (Monday),” the delegate said.

A statement posted on Ahmadinejad’s website said that in his talks with Lula, he “thanked the Brazilian president’s stance in support of Iranians’ rights and the position he adopts for improving the world.”

“The truth is some countries which dominate the world’s media, economic and political centres do not want other countries to progress. But together we can overcome these unfair conditions and make changes,” Ahmadinejad said.

In reply, Lula was quoted as telling Ahmadinejad: “Brazil regards its ties with Iran as strategic as it believes one can act stronger with each other’s help.”

He added: “A change to the UN Security Council is a fundamental and serious issue for a democratic management of the world.”

Lula, who heads a 300-strong delegation, also met Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who denounced the “noise” made by Western powers over the Brazilian president’s visit.

“Domineering powers headed by America are unhappy with cooperation between independent countries,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by state television.

A number of trade agreements were to be signed between the two countries later in the day.

Tehran had hoped to use the visit for joint high-level talks with Brazil and the other key mediator in the standoff, Turkey, over a UN-brokered nuclear fuel deal.

But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not join over what he said was Iran’s failure to confirm a commitment to the deal backed by world powers.

His foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, however, instead flew into Tehran on Sunday and was expected to join the talks.

Brazil and Turkey, non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, have so far resisted US-led efforts to push through a fourth set of sanctions against Iran over its failure to heed repeated ultimatums to stop enrichment activity.

Ahead of his two-day trip, Lula told reporters in Moscow he was “optimistic” and hoped to be able to persuade Ahmadinejad to reach an agreement with the West over Tehran’s controversial nuclear enrichment programme.

But the United States and Russia have already said the chances of success are weak, while Turkey appears to have given up any hope of its neighbour avoiding sanctions over its controversial nuclear drive.

Iran has rejected a UN proposal to enrich abroad the uranium it says it needs for a nuclear research reactor. The West fears Iran wants highly enriched uranium to make an atomic bomb, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

“We have received many proposals and we are considering them,” Iran’s atomic chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, was quoted as saying on Saturday in local media.

“There is a willingness on both sides to resolve the problem and things are moving positively,” he added without elaborating.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has indicated that Iran is still not ready to budge from its dogged position.

“We hope that the parties (involved in the talks with Iran) will bend to the realities and choose the right path,” Mottaki was quoted as saying in reports on Saturday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said that the Brazilian president’s talks with Iran “may be the last chance before the adoption of appropriate decisions within the framework of the Security Council.”

That came after a senior US State Department official told reporters on condition of anonymity that the Lula visit was being seen as “perhaps the last big shot at engagement.”

Russia’s agreement would leave China as the last remaining holdout among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, bringing the prospect of sanctions much nearer.



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