U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday in Brazil she doubts Iran will negotiate seriously about its nuclear program unless the U.N. Security Council approves new sanctions against it. Clinton held talks in Brasilia with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva.
Clinton made her appeal even though Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reaffirmed his opposition to early sanctions before meeting the Secretary, saying the world community should not push Iran into a corner.
The Brazilian president said he wants the same right for Iran as he does for Brazil, to the development peaceful nuclear energy, and that if Iran abides by that it will have Brazilian support.
At a press event with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Clinton said she doubted Iran will bargain in good faith unless a new set of sanctions is approved by the Security Council, of which Brazil is a current member.
She suggested Iran is trying to weaken an emerging international consensus for sanctions by sounding conciliatory in contacts with selected influential states. "The door is open for negotiations. We never slammed it shut. But we don't see anybody, even in the far-off distance, walking toward it. We see an Iran that runs to Brazil, an Iran that runs to Turkey, an Iran that runs to China, telling different things to different people, to avoid international sanctions," she said.
The Obama administration, backed by European allies, is leading a drive for a fourth U.N. sanctions resolution after Tehran spurned a nuclear confidence-building offer in November from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A once-reluctant Russia appears ready to back a fourth sanctions resolution, but not Brazil or veto-wielding council member China.
President Lula hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejahd on a visit in November and plans to go to Iran in May and trade between the two countries has soared.
At the appearance with Clinton, Foreign Minister Amorim said Brazil has not stated a position on new sanctions but believes they tend to have a negative effect.
Heard through an interpreter, he said there is still room for talking and that Iran will not simply bow down in the face of pro-sanctions sentiment. "I'm not even sure we have a majority here. We can't just join the majority just because it is evolving. We have to think by ourselves, with our own values and principles," he said.
Clinton's Brazil meetings were otherwise dominated by hemispheric issues including aid to earthquake-stricken Chile and Haiti and the aftermath of last year's coup in Honduras.
Amorim cautioned against the early readmittance of Honduras to regional institutions without a provision for the return of ousted former President Manuel Zelaya, now in the Dominican Republic.
Clinton said the process should proceed, under auspices of the Organization of American States, in the wake of internationally-recognized Honduran elections in November. "The United States is committed to supporting Honduras on its path to reintegration with the inter-American community. And we want to work with Brazil and others to strengthen to OAS so that it can more effectively advance our shared democratic values, respond when democratic order is subverted, and help to prevent political crises from erupting in the first place," she said.
Clinton is on a six-nation Latin America trip that has already taken her to Uruguay, Argentina and briefly, to Chile. She is due back in Washington late Friday after stops in Costa Rica and Guatemala.