Posted by: kenwbudd | November 23, 2009

Iran: Brazil Enjoying Closer Nuclear Co-operation

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended closer ties with Brazil Friday, hinting at a bilateral nuclear cooperation ahead of a state visit.

Ahmadinejad stressed the “need for cooperation between the two countries in various fields,” according to a statement distributed here by the Iranian embassy.

“While there is an unfair polemic in Western countries against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, the people of Brazil side with the Iranian people.”

Pointing to Brazil’s own nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said Brazilians “understand that a few arrogant powers… are trying to prevent other nations from having access to advanced science.”

Ahmadinejad arrives in Brazil on Monday for a busy day-long visit that includes a meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, signing bilateral trade deals, a visit to Congress, a press conference and a speech at a Brasilia university, according to the embassy.

It will be the first visit by an Iranian president to Brazil, and Ahmadinejad’s third round of talks with Lula, who is scheduled to visit Tehran in early 2010.

Israel, whose conservative government considers Ahmadinejad-ruled Iran an existential threat, has already blasted Brazil’s “mistake” in hosting the firebrand leader.

Brazil has backed Iran’s nuclear development program, as long as it serves peaceful, civilian uses. Lula told AFP in September that he was against sanctions on Iran, preferring instead diplomacy.

His stance contrasts with the United States, its Western allies and Israel, which charge that Tehran is seeking to develop a nuclear bomb under the cover of its suspect nuclear program.

World powers are engaged in long-running efforts to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions but in the latest setback, Tehran has rejected a proposed nuclear fuel deal.

The Iranian leader called for Brasilia’s cooperation on Middle East concerns, as Brazil seeks to boost its international profile to match its growing economic heft.

“If the Brazilian people and the Iranian people are united on issues such as the Zionist regime’s cruel attack on the defenseless people of Gaza, this will show a mutual desire” for peace, Ahmadinejad said.

He was referring to the 22-day Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended in January, killing some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Ahmadinejad’s stop in Brazil, part of a broader Latin American tour to boost its influence in the region, comes just over a week after Lula hosted Israeli President Shimon Peres.

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