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Hillary Clinton fails to convince Brazil to support Iran sanctions

Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Brazil doesn't support Iran sanctions. He wants more negotiations. The US worries about the growing closeness of Iran and Brazil.

By Staff writer / March 4, 2010

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left), Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (center) and Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim shake hands during a meeting in Brasilia Wednesday. Mr. Amorim told Ms. Clinton that Brazil doesn't support Iran sanctions.

Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

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The visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Brazil Wednesday was billed as an effort to forge ties with a country that is increasingly emerging as a recognized global power.

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But the rhetoric of partnership came easier than the reality. Brazil rebuffed Ms. Clinton's efforts to win support for more sanctions on Iran's nuclear program.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters Wednesday that Brazil wanted two or three months' more negotiation with Iran.
"We still have some possibility of coming to an agreement ... but that may require a lot of flexibility on both sides," he said, with Clinton present. "We will not simply bow down to the evolving consensus if we do not agree."

The US has watched the budding relationship between Brazil and Iran with concern, developing as the US seeks further United Nations sanctions against Iran's nuclear program. Brazil continues to support Iran’s policies, arguing that a diplomatic approach is more effective than sanctions. Since Brazil currently holds one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council, the US is worried the Latin American nation could get in the way of new sanctions.

Brazil is just one of several countries, such as China, that the US is lobbying. But getting Brazil on board would be particularly helpful to the US effort, as Iran has long held the position that only the US and some European nations support a tougher stance against Tehran.

“Brazil is a country Iran would care about,” says Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University in New York. “The most effective use of sanctions in this particular case is to send a message to Iran that it is isolated. … Getting countries potentially sympathetic to Iran to join in and join a resolution does get Iran’s attention.”

Brazil won't 'bow down'

After meeting in Brasilia with Foreign Minister Celso Amorim on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton probably knows this better than anyone. Mr. Amorim said Wednesday that Brazil will not "bow down" to international pressure.

Clinton also met with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had earlier warned against "pushing" Iran into a corner.

Still, Clinton argued that Iran will not negotiate "in good faith" without sanctions.

“Once the international community speaks in unison around a resolution, then the Iranians will talk and begin to negotiate,” she told reporters. “We want to get to negotiations; we just think that the best path is through the Security Council.”

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