Lula in Tehran Avoids Press and Keeps Mum on Iran’s Nuclear Issue

Lula and Iran's spiritual leader Ali KhameneiAfter a full day of meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and nearly an hour’s conversation with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ended his Sunday night in Tehran, without being able to announce the end of the standoff between Iran and the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which requires the opening of Iran’s nuclear facilities to international inspectors.

 

The mediation attempt by Lula is seen as the last chance for Iran to avoid new economic sanctions to the country.

Lula and Ahmadinejad met in the morning at the presidential palace in the presence of foreign ministers of both countries. The press conference they were supposed to give afterwards was canceled by decision of the Brazilian president, who did not want to talk to the press without having something concrete to announce.

Two days ago, Lula said in Moscow that he believed the chances of success of his mission were 99.9%. At 9 pm when le left the hotel Steghlal to dine with Ahmadinejad, the President said only that the increased level of optimism.

After meeting with Ahmadinejad, Lula had lunch with Ayatollah Khamenei. According to the Iranian official news agency IRNA, the supreme leader praised Brazil for having adopted independent positions “to negotiate with the arrogant U.S. policies in recent years.” About the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, not a word.

Lula also visited Larijanio Ali, president of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, where he again avoided contact with the press. By late afternoon, the presidents of the two countries ended the 14th Meeting of Iran-Brazil Business. In the main convention center in Tehran, they exchanged promises of lasting economic cooperation, by encouraging foreign trade and exchange of technology.

The Foreign Minister of Brazil, Celso Amorim, did not attend the event because he spent all day involved in the talks with Iranian officials on nuclear issue.

In his speech to businessmen, the Iranian president referred to Lula as “friend and brother.” He criticized several times the world economic order, the rich countries, the financial system and the stock markets. “Our closeness will ensure the security and peace worldwide,” said Ahmadinejad, for whom the capitalist economy is reaching the end of the road.

Lula, according to Ahmadinejad, “has the credibility to correct the world’s prevailing order.” Iran’s president made no mention of the main reasons for Lula’s visit to Iran, the tentative agreement with the IAEA on the nuclear issue.

Lula chose to focus his speech on the potential of economic partnership between both countries. He stressed the need for the Southern Hemisphere to diversify trade and reduce dependence on sales to rich countries.

He also stressed that Brazil is willing to help Iran increase its food independence with rural production researches. Moreover, the Brazilian leader announced the opening of a credit line of 1 billion euros (US$ 1.27 billion) for food exports from Brazil to Iran “It makes no sense that businesses of our businesses depend only on foreign banks,” said Lula.

Lula participates on Monday, May 17, in the opening session of the 14th Summit of the G15, a group formed by non-aligned countries. The expectation is that only then the results of his efforts with the president of Iran on the nuclear issue will be announced.

The conversations were based on the proposal of the IAEA for Iran to accept to exchange enriched uranium to 3.5% in the Islamic country for nuclear fuel, uranium enriched to 20%. France emerges as the most likely supplier of the fuel. With this level of enrichment, the uranium would not be able to be used to manufacture atomic bombs.

By early afternoon, Lula flies to Spain. The last engagement of the Brazilian president in Tehran on Sunday was dinner with Ahmadinejad. Lula left the Steghlal hotel at 9 pm, without meeting with the director general of the National Security Council and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, as journalists accompanying the Brazilian president’s trip expected.

The defense minister of Brazil, Nelson Jobim, part of the entourage, said that Jalili was at the expanded morning meeting between Lula and Ahmadinejad, but declined to comment on the negotiations.

Upon hearing from the reporters that they were “anguished” with the lack of news, Jobim summed up the mood of the presidential entourage: “Me too.”

ABr

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