Iran General NewsBrazil has no plans for new mediation on Iran

Brazil has no plans for new mediation on Iran


Reuters: Brazil will not make any new attempts to mediate between world powers and Tehran over its nuclear programme for now but still regards diplomacy as the best approach to solve the row, Brazil’s foreign minister said.

By Justyna Pawlak

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Brazil will not make any new attempts to mediate between world powers and Tehran over its nuclear programme for now but still regards diplomacy as the best approach to solve the row, Brazil’s foreign minister said.

Antonio Patriota, who took office on Jan. 1 in the new government led by Dilma Rousseff, said it was debatable whether sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, were having an impact on Tehran or would ultimately change its stance on uranium enrichment.

“I am in favour of diplomacy, of dialogue,” Patriota told Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday during a visit to Brussels to discuss foreign policy and trade. “It is debatable whether (sanctions) are producing a desirable effect.”

Brazil has long advocated negotiations rather than sanctions as a means of addressing Western concerns that Iran’s atomic programme is a cover to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says its uranium enrichment is for peaceful purposes.

Together with Turkey, Brazil brokered a compromise deal with Tehran last year which was rejected by Western powers for not going far enough in pressuring Iran, and angered the United States by voting against sanctions at the United Nations.

Patriota, 56, warned that any future negotiations could be complicated by progess Tehran has made so far in its nuclear work. But he said Brazil would hold back on any new initiatives.

“I think it would be a little bit too soon for us to undertake another attempt of the nature we took last year,” he said. “But we are keeping channels open.”

Political analysts have suggested that Patriota, a former Brazilian ambassador to the United States, could have a less confrontational foreign policy approach than his predecessor, Celso Amorim, particularly on an issue such as Iran.

Recent efforts by the six world powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — to negotiate with Iran have yielded little progress, with two-days of talks in Istanbul this month ending without a breakthrough.

Iran may now face the threat of even more stringent sanctions as the United States and others seek a way of exerting pressure on Tehran to halt its enrichment activities.


Commenting on trade issues, which were part of his discussions with Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Patriota said he was optimistic about progress in talks between the EU and South American trade bloc Mercosur.

Relaunched last May after a six-year break, the negotiations aim to create the world’s largest free trade zone, with 750 million consumers. Brazil is a founding member of Mercosur.

“I am optimistic. I reaffirm (Brazil’s commitment) to work seriously to overcome challenges,” he said.

The two sides are expected to present their tariff proposals in Brussels in March, and Ashton said in a statement after meeting Patriota that both had “agreed on the importance of a sucessful conclusion of … negotiations in 2011”.

Patriota also commented on talks on a new global trade accord, ahead of a meeting of trade ministers on Friday and Saturday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Under the leadership of Rousseff, Brazil could take an increasingly tough stance in trade talks, at least against China, because of concerns over its eroding trade balance. Patriota’s comments appeared to reflect that.

“I think our best option is to return to the July 2008 base. On that understanding I think we can make very quick progress,” he said, responding to a question about Brazil’s solution to the global trade standoff.

Talks have been stalled since July 2008 because of differences over farming — a key interest to Brazil — and manufacturing, with negotiators saying all sides in the dispute need to give ground to see progress.

The United States is pushing for big emerging economies such as Brazil to open their markets further, while Brazil and others want liberalisation of farm trade and cuts in rich nations’ agricultural subsidies.

(Editing by Noah Barkin)

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