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14 May, 2010 14:12

Brazilian leader’s mission to Iran may be last chance – Medvedev

Brazil’s president Lula's upcoming visit to Iran may be the last chance to come to an agreement with Tehran and avoid UN sanctions, President Medvedev has said. However, the chances for success are only 30%, he added.

The Russian president and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have held talks in Moscow. Bilateral relations and economic ties were at the core of the meeting and both leaders seemed to be rather satisfied and optimistic with how things between the two states are developing.

According to Medvedev, Fridays’ talks indicate that Moscow and Brasilia are making progress “on all issues”. He specifically underlined that their positions on international situations and “what we need to do to address various crises” are very close.

With Tehran’s nuclear program remaining the main concern for the entire world that pops up at almost any international powwow, the issue has also been discussed by Medvedev and Lula. As ever, Iran was the topic journalists wanted to get comments on during a short joint media conference given by the leaders after talks, which is quite understandable considering that the Brazilian president is due to pay a visit to Tehran on May 16 to try to come to a compromise with the Islamic Republic’s leadership.

The trip “will of course not be easy,” Medvedev said. However, he went on, “I strongly hope that the mission of the Brazilian president in Iran will be a success.”

“It may be the last chance offered before the UN Security Council makes its resolutions on Iran. If Iran is persuaded to agree to cooperate in accordance with the proposals made by the Group of Six, it will be very good, and we wish success to President Lula,” Medvedev told a news conference. The president referred to earlier proposals over exchange of Iranian low-enriched uranium for higher enriched nuclear fuel on a territory outside Iran.

The Russian president also reiterated the main points of the approach on Iran of the so-called Group of Six – the five permanent UN Security Council Members along with Germany – which entail that: the Iranian nuclear program should be peaceful; it should be controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Tehran should communicate with the international community and IAEA; and that the Islamic Republic should observe the rules of non-proliferation.

If all these conditions are met, “we are ready for Iran to take a worthy place among the countries that are conducting studies in the nuclear sphere,” Medvedev said.

“However, there are certain concerns on these very issues,” he went on.

To make things more complicated, there are other nuances, since each country involved in the talks has its own relations with Tehran.

“Or to be more precise, either it has [relations] or does not. As for the Russian Federation, it has such relations – these are deep and serious relations,” Medvedev said. “This means we have a certain responsibility and this is a kind of choice that we have to make,” he said.

The Russian president “sincerely wished luck” to his counterpart. However, he said, if the Brazilian president mission fails, the international community will have no other choice but “to act according to the approaches that are currently discussed by the Group of Six and other countries actively participating in the process.”

He concluded that he wouldn’t want the situation to develop under that scenario, but “it could not be ruled out.”

“I appeal to the Iranian leadership to listen carefully to the proposals that the Brazilian president will bring to them,” Medvedev said.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, just like the Russian side, believes in a dialogue and a diplomatic approach in trying to resolve the problem. What may be a good sign is that he setting off on his vital trip being rather optimistic.

“With each day bringing the talks in Iran closer I am becoming a greater optimist. I was an optimist yesterday, and I am much more of an optimist today. And probably I will be an even greater optimist after meeting President Ahmadinejad,” Lula said.

“I am going there realizing that the dialogue that will take place is vital and I will try to use all my power of persuasion in this dialogue.” 

“I will try to do my utmost to arrive at some sort of an agreement. I am flying to Iran convinced that we will find it,” he went on.

Lula said that it was his goal to persuade his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to cooperate with the international community. The Brazilian leader added that he wants the Iranian people – the same as the Brazilians – to live having their own constitution. He said that he wants “the people in the Middle East to live in a situation where the using of nuclear weapons is ruled out.”

Answering journalists’ question about the chances of success, Medvedev answered jokingly:

“The president of Brazil is an optimist. I will also be an optimist and say [the chances for success will be] 30%," he said.

Russia & Brazil need direct air connection

Indeed, the Moscow meeting was not all about issues of international concern since two rapidly developing world economies have quite a few topics of mutual interest to discuss. Overall, the talks were rather fruitful and resulted in signing a number of agreements as well as a plan of action for a strategic partnership.

“The existing strategic plan for interaction and developing of cooperation between Russia and Brazil is something of a prospect for us,” Lula explained.

“Brazil’s business will invest money into Russia and Russian entrepreneurs will do the same into the Brazilian economy. Both countries will have the opportunities to create joint ventures and that will be possible if Brazil and Russia realize that it is now impossible to live without direct air flights from Moscow to Rio de Janeiro, Moscow to Sao Paulo, and Moscow to Brasilia,” he said.

President Medvedev expressed exactly the same view on the issue. According to the Brazilian leader, a direct flight connection would benefit everyone: ordinary travelers, students, and entrepreneurs.

“We want a direct air line from Brazil to Russia and we must consider this as our priority task that such a route is established,” he stressed.

Therefore, Lula said, “we set up a working group to work out proposals and this working group will deal with trade, payments in national currencies as well.”

He stressed that using national currencies will be beneficial for the development of both Russian and Brazilian economic and trade ties.

“We should not forget, however, that the economic crisis emerged in a rich country first of all because the financial system existing in that country is far from being perfect and until now, a year on, has been suffering from the economic crisis. It’s amazing that such a country as Greece, such a small country, created such huge problems for the European economy. And this example demonstrates to us that the financial system in the world is under poor control and is poorly regulated,” he said.

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