Brazil has backed its claim as peacemaker in West Asia by discussing at length ways to ease tensions in the region during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Brasilia.

Brazils President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva formally recognised Iran’s status as a regional power, as well as a peace partner. He said Tehran had a “decisive role to play” in ending conflicts in West Asia.

On his part, Mr. Ahmadinejad supported Brazil’s membership in an expanded United Nations Security Council.

Brazil is of the view that the United Nations should take the lead in the international diplomacy surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict. The United Nations is presently only one of the constituents of the quartet steering the faltering West Asia peace process, which also includes Russia, the European Union and the United States as the dominant player.

After three hours of talks with Mr. Ahmadinjead on Monday, Mr. Lula said that emergence of “viable and dignified Palestinian State” co-existing with a “sovereign” Israel was the key to lasting peace.

Prior to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit, the Brazilian President had separately hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres. He stressed that Iran, which had close ties with the Palestinian Hamas had a crucial role to play in uniting all the Palestinian factions.

Mr. Lula will begin a new round of West Asia diplomacy in March, when he plans to visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Iran.

Distinguishing himself from advocates of more sanctions, Mr. Lula has been persistent in supporting talks with Iran. In a radio address ahead of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit, he said isolation of Iran would not work. “If Iran is an important actor in this strife, its important for someone to sit with Iran, to talk with Iran,” he observed. He defended Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, but also urged Tehran to play by the international rules.

Both sides during talks decided to diversify their relationship by adding solid commercial and technological content to it. They discussed tie ups in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, agriculture, and energy, according to Brazil’s Foreign Ministry. Iran’s state-run Press TV said eight agreements were signed during the visit covering areas of commerce, energy, and agricultural research. From Brazil, Mr. Ahmadinejad heads for Venezuela and Bolivia, as part of his five-day Latin America itinerary. He will return to Tehran after visiting Senegal en route.

More In: International | News