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Brazilian President Meets Iranian Leaders Over Nuclear Deal

Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva met with both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the outside world focused on whether a deal over a long-stalled nuclear fuel-swap would be reached.

Iranian leaders appear to be downplaying any discussion of their country's controversial nuclear program during a high-profile visit by Brazilian President Lula da Silva to Tehran.

But a Brazilian official told Agence France Presse that Mr. Lula da Silva "remained optimistic about the nuclear talks," insisting the nuclear issue was a "very important item on their agenda."

The Brazilian official said negotiations are "ongoing" and it is necessary to wait until the end of the talks Monday to judge if progress had been made.

A nuclear fuel swap deal between Iran and the West has been in limbo since January, when Iran refused to accept to trade its low-grade uranium stockpile for more highly enriched uranium. Tehran insists the swap take place in a simultaneous operation and on its own soil.

Mr. Lula da Silva received an unusually warm welcome, in part because of media coverage of his diplomatic negotiations with Tehran, and in part because he was one of only a handful of heads of state to attend a non-aligned summit being dubbed the "G-15."

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who visited Brazil last November, held a joint press conference with Mr. Lula da Silva stressing economic cooperation between the two countries, while avoiding any mention of talks about Iran's nuclear program.

He says that it is important to increase cooperation and ties between countries that are independent, like Iran and Brazil, as the foundation of a new world economic order.

Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke of increasing trade between Iran and Brazil to the level of $10-billion a year and went on to describe various areas of cooperation between both countries.

He says that opportunities must be fostered between Iran and Brazil to increase cooperation in trade, banking, and investment outside the traditional world economic order.

With a characteristic flourish, the Iranian president insisted that "capitalism (is) dead," while nevertheless going on to encourage outside investment in Iran. He also praised his Brazilian counterpart for turning against what he called "the evil world order."