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Brazil gives Israel cold shoulder over Iran

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With Israeli foreign minister on a mission in Latin America to curb Iran’s influence in the region, Brazilian authorities pour cold water on the idea of changing their stance towards Tehran.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is on a 10-day visit to South American states, said Brazil should make good use of its growing ties with Iran to help curb the country’s nuclear activities.

“I believe that Brazil, more than other countries, could try to convince the Iranians to stop their nuclear program,” Lieberman said in a joint news conference with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his counterpart Celso Amorim on Wednesday.

The West, spearheaded by the US and Israel, accuses Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Tehran, however, rejects the allegation, arguing that the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which it is a signatory, grants its members the right to conduct peaceful nuclear programs.

In response to Israel’s request for a change in stance towards Iran over its nuclear program, the Brazilian foreign minister defended Iran’s development of nuclear technology for “exclusively non-military” purposes and within a “verifiable” framework.

The Brazilian official then took an apparent swipe at Israel over its blunt refusal to sign the NPT. “Brazil would like all countries to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty” and wants to see “a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.”

Israel, which is believed to be the Middle East’s sole possessor of nuclear warheads, has shrugged off requests to join the treaty.

Lieberman started his tour of Latin American countries, for what the foreign ministry has described as countering Iran’s growing inroad into Latina American countries.

Iran’s Ambassador to Brasilia Mohsen Shaterzadeh reacted to the visit by saying that the visit would never have an impact on Iran-Brazil relations.

“At the moment, the Israeli regime is known as a racist government that has the blood of Palestinians on its hands. The regime has even lost its close friends,” the envoy said.

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