Brazil and Iran Engaged in Backscratching

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva urged his Iranian counterpart on Monday to elaborate on nuclear non-proliferation talks but backed Iran's right to develop a peaceful nuclear program.

Ignoring critics who fear closer ties with Iran could  endanger Brazil's image on the global diplomatic stage, Lula met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brasilia on the first leg of the Iranian leader's South American tour, which also includes stops in Bolivia and Venezuela.

Iran is under international pressure to accept a deal that would allow it to send enriched uranium abroad to be rendered into fuel that would be returned for use in medical facilities in Tehran. Lula offered support for Ahmadinejad while also nudging him to pursue dialogue with the West.

Western powers agree that Iran has the right to develop a civilian nuclear program, but want restrictions to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon and say it has been caught building nuclear facilities in secret. Iran insists its program is for civilian purposes only.

Officials from Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Russia and China are urging Iran to reconsider its rejection of a deal drafted by the United Nations that aims to delay Tehran's potential ability to make bombs by divesting the country of most of its enriched uranium.

U.S. President Barack Obama has warned of sanctions against Iran "within weeks" if Tehran fails to accept.

Ahmadinejad, who called Lula his "good friend," said Iran was still open to an agreement but that Western countries had shown no political will to reach a deal.

Brazil, which has renounced nuclear weapons, is developing its own technology to enrich uranium as part of its nuclear energy program. It is also partnering with France to develop a nuclear-powered submarine, according to Reuters' report.

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