Brazil's Silva Tries to Head Off Iran Sanctions Ahead of Mideast Tour

Brazil's president warned yesterday that U.S.-proposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program could lead to war, and said he will make his own efforts to prevent further conflicts - an example he said shows his country's growing global prominence.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told the AP that sanctions would likely push Iran further from the bargaining table. And that, he suggested, might lead to war. Silva is due to visit Israel, Jordan and the West Bank this week.

He criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated questioning of the Holocaust and calls for Israel's destruction, but suggested political tensions are to blame for the inflammatory remarks.

"It's impossible to imagine someone saying there wasn't a Holocaust or to accept someone saying they're going to do away with another country," Silva said. "All these things surface because the situation is very radicalized, it needs to be calmed down."

Silva said he will try to convince Ahmadinejad to restart negotiations to ease concerns about the nuclear program. Ahmadinejad met Silva last year in Brazil, a visit that alarmed Washington.

Silva cited the Iran standoff and the struggling Mideast peace process as proof that the world's traditional powers aren't able to solve problems on their own.

"Who decided that the United States, France, England, China and Russia represent the collective aspirations of our planet, the new geopolitics, the new world order?" asked Silva, who has campaigned for a permanent Brazilian seat on the UN Security Council.