Lula to urge Iran against nuclear bomb

BRASILIA (Reuters) – President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said yesterday he would try to use Brazil’s influence to persuade Iran not to develop nuclear weapons when he visits Tehran next month.

Brazil, whose trade ties with Iran have strengthened in recent years, has offered to help mediate in the stand-off between the West and Tehran over its nuclear program, while arguing that new sanctions would be counter-productive.

“I hope that we can convince our Iranian friends against taking a hasty step toward developing nuclear weapons,” Lula told reporters in Brasilia.

He added he would also keep working to persuade permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that sanctions against Iran would solve “absolutely nothing.”

“We are convinced that Brazil has the clout to play this role in the world,” Lula said.

Lula was speaking after he met with visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has formed close ties with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fellow US foe.

Lula’s trip to Iran in May follows Ahmadinejad’s visit to Brazil last year and comes as support builds in the United Nations for fresh sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme, which Washington suspects is developing weapons.

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