The G-15 summit beginning here on Monday has been overshadowed by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's parleys with top Iranian leaders to resolve the standoff between the West and Tehran over the uranium enrichment issue.
“On the negotiations, I believe that the conditions tend to lead to a serious agreement about the exchange,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramil Mehmanparast after Mr. Lula had conferred with Iranian Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Till now, the Iranian media has made no mention of the nuclear issue during the talks held by Mr. Silva with its leaders, preferring to focus only on the bilateral aspects.
The issue at stake is Iran exchanging its 3.5 per cent uranium with 20 per cent enriched uranium from another country for research and medical purposes.
The U.S.-Europe combine does not want Iran to further enrich uranium as it suspects it could be diverted to make nuclear weapons. Iran, however, protests that it is not interested in making a bomb but simply wants to achieve the complete nuclear cycle for civilian purposes which is allowed to all Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty signatories. It is prepared for a swap only on its territory instead of in the country which will exchange the enriched uranium.
The U.S. and Europe have threatened to move the United Nations Security Council next month for sanctions against Iran.
Brazil says it is getting involved so that a peaceful solution can be found.
“Other countries want to portray Iran as some kind of a devil, sidelining it through sanctions that will not work except to strengthen Iran's resolve to resist external threats. All we want is to take Iran to the negotiating table for a diplomatic solution,” said a Brazilian official who is part of the 300-strong delegation.
The Brazilian President's attempt at mediation along with Turkey has not gone down well with the West but officials of his entourage draw attention to the discrepancy in their approach by quoting from his statement before leaving for Tehran. “I do business eye-to-eye while leaders of the U.S., France and England have never attempted to talk to Mr. Ahmadinejad,” he had observed.
There was no word on the nuclear issue after Mr. Lula's talks with the Iranian leaders but Indian sources suggested that more rounds were in the offing on the day of the summit. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu is also engaged with Iranian leaders on finding a solution, they said.
Significantly Turkey and Brazil are rotating members of the Security Council and would be at the meeting along with China which also disfavours the West's approach to squeezing off Iran through sanctions to make it fall in line with its approach.