Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 11:32 UK

Israel sees Brazil help with Iran

By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Avigdor Lieberman (left), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (centre), Celso Amorim (right)
Avigdor Lieberman is aiming to build ties with Latin America

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says Brazil perhaps "more than other countries" can help convince Iran to suspend its nuclear programme.

Mr Lieberman is on a 10-day visit to Latin American partly to promote trade but also to try to counter the influence of Iran in the region.

He said Brazil traditionally had strong ties with Arab countries and Israel and could be a "good negotiator".

Mr Lieberman is also due to visit Colombia, Peru and Argentina.

Mr Lieberman is in Brazil, where he held what were described as "constructive talks" with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the capital, Brasilia.

Israeli diplomats had acknowledged that unease about Iranian influence in Latin America would be a major issue on this trip, and that Mr Lieberman would be keen to raise those concerns.

However while Israel appears uncomfortable with Brazil's cordial relations with Iran, its foreign minister suggested this might also offer an opportunity.

"I think that Brazil more than other countries can try to convince Iranians to stop their nuclear programme and, of course, to convince the Palestinians to start direct talks," Mr Lieberman said.

However Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim indicated support for Iran's goal of nuclear development for "exclusively non-military purposes" and within a "verifiable framework".

In what could be seen as a message for Israel he also spoke of the desire to see a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

No detail was given about any potential role Brazil might play but there could soon be a chance to test the idea.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unexpectedly cancelled a visit to Brazil earlier this year, but is said to have promised it will be his first overseas trip after he is sworn in for a second term of office.

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