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Middle east

Lula arrives in Iran for key nuclear talks

Video by Sonia DRIDI , Nicholas RUSHWORTH

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-15

President Lula Inacio da Silva arrived in Tehran for a nuclear summit. The US and Russia have warned that Lula's trip to Tehran could be Iran's last chance to escape severe UN sanctions on its controversial nuclear programme.

AFP - Brazilian President Lula Inacio da Silva arrived in Tehran on Sunday for a nuclear summit that major powers have said might prove to be Tehran's last chance to avoid tough new UN sanctions.

The Brazilian leader, heading a delegation of 300, was welcomed on the two-day visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, an AFP journalist said.

He is due to meet Sunday morning with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and is also due to meet the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahead of his trip, Lula told reporters in Moscow that he was "optimistic" and hoped to be able to persuade Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to reach an agreement with the West.

"I must now use everything I have learned over my long political career to convince my friend Ahmadinejad to come to an agreement with the international community," Lula said.

Just hours before his arrival, Iran said it was willing to discuss a venue to swap uranium that needs to be enriched for a nuclear research reactor if it obtains "concrete guarantees," Al-Alam television reported.

The Arabic-language channel quoted foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying that Tehran struck a deal on the amount of uranium to be exchanged and the modality of the swap -- simultaneously or in batches.

"There is an agreement on the time and the volume of the fuel to be exchanged," Mehmanparast said according to Al-Alam, without elaborating on the deal or with whom it was reached.

"But there is still the venue (to be decided) and if there are concrete guarantees, Iran is willing to discuss the location," he added.

The United States and Russia have already said that Lula's chances of success are weak.

Brazil is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and has so far resisted US-led efforts to push through a fourth set of sanctions against Iran over its failure to heed repeated ultimatums to stop enrichment activity.

Iran has rejected a UN proposal to enrich abroad the uranium it says it needs for a nuclear research reactor. The West fears Iran wants highly enriched uranium to make an atomic bomb, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

Date created : 2010-05-15

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