‘Who said Iran is a matter for US?’: Lula

BRASILIA - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hit out at the United States Thursday, challenging its muscular approach on Iran that sidelined diplomatic efforts he made this week to resolve the showdown.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 21 May 2010, 9:36 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:59 AM

Newspaper columnists “say that it was none of Brazil’s business to be an intermediary with Iran. But who said it was a matter for the United States?” he asked after returning from an overseas tour that included Tehran.

“The blunt truth is, Iran is being presented as if it were the devil, that it doesn’t want to sit down” to negotiate.

To the contrary, said Lula, “Iran decided to sit down at the negotiating table. It wants to see if the others are going to go along with what (it) has done.”

In an implied swipe at the US government of President Barack Obama, Lula added: “There are people who don’t know how to do politics without having an enemy.”

The bitter outburst to reporters in Brasilia came three days after Lula and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran to secure a deal meant to stave off UN sanctions the United States is pushing for.

Initially hailed as a diplomatic master stroke, the deal fell by the wayside on Tuesday when the United States submitted a UN resolution calling for a new round of sanctions against Iran, saying the Tehran agreement was insufficient.

Brazil and Turkey, the two non-permanent members of the UN Security Council most opposed to the resolution, immediately sent a letter calling for the resolution to be dropped and their deal to be considered.

Lula said he believed his contribution upheld the spirit of multilateralism.

He added that the media backlash at home over his perceived failure was part of the “inferiority complex” Brazilians felt when pitted against the traditional Western powers.

“We went to Iran and we succeeded, after 18 hours of meetings... to get Iran to do what the UN Security Council had been asking it to do for the past six months,” he said.

He also highlighted the case of a young French teacher, Clotilde Reiss, accused of being a French spy by Iran, who was released to return home during his visit to Tehran, although he stopped short of saying that that had been a bargaining chip in the negotiations.

“We were talking for four and half months to get her freed. Nobody knew that, except us,” Lula said.

A top Iranian MP, deputy parliamentary speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar, said Tehran will withdraw from the Brazil-brokered deal to swap low-enriched uranium for fuel for a research reactor if sanctions are applied, the ISNA news agency reported.

Turkish and Brazilian diplomats, meanwhile, said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be traveling to Brazil next week to speak with Lula.

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