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TODAY SPECIAL
 
Brazil sees 'affinity' with China over Iran: FM
Brazil shares "great affinity" with China over what course to take on Iran, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters on Thursday, as UN Security Council members mulled new sanctions against Tehran.

Amorim said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva outlined Brazil's defense of Iran in the teeth of the sanctions threat in bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao ahead of a BRIC summit in Brasilia, explaining that he believed any sanctions would prove ineffective.

"Our impression... is that the effectiveness of sanctions is debatable," Amorim said.

Lula set out the same position in talks with visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the foreign minister said.

"President Lula gave an explanation, to provide better transparency, on what we've done in relation with Iran. And we see great affinity with the points of view of each country," said the Brazilian foreign minister.

The comments were important in the context and timing of the UN sanctions proposal, said an AFP report.
Permanent UN Security Council members the United States, Britain and France are leading a Western push to have broader sanctions imposed against Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

Russia and China, also permanent members with power to veto any resolution, are reluctant to hammer Iran, with which it has important military or business dealings.

Brazil, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, has come under intense pressure to back the sanctions, along with other Iran defenders Turkey and Lebanon.

So far, though, it has resisted, insisting instead on dialogue with Tehran that Western capitals say is not forthcoming.

The Brazilian president said dialogue "obviously required flexibility on the part of the Iranian government," Amorim said.

Lula is also scheduled to make a visit to Iran next month, following up a visit that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made to Brazil last year.

China's Hu and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were due to hold their own one-to-one talks later Thursday, during which the issue of Iran could also be raised.

Meanwhile, ambassadors from the Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, met for a second straight day on Iran in the UN headquarters in New York, but imposed a news blackout on their deliberations.

Diplomats said they anticipated weeks of hard-nosed bargaining before a text can be brought to a vote by the full 15-member Security Council.
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