Shannon: On Iran, US, Brazil will be judged by results

Paulo Sotero, 01/24/2010

Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon at a seminar on "Obama Administration Relations with South America: A Conversation with Five U.S. Ambassadors"

“Ultimately the test of our diplomacy, not just U.S. diplomacy or Brazilian diplomacy, the larger international effort to deal with Iran, is going to be judged not by our engagement or the processes we use, but by our results, and this is what I say about having a fact driven diplomacy,” said the incoming American ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, during a public session held on Friday January 22nd at the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars. The event was hosted by the Center’s Latin American Program and Brazil  Institute.

The Iranian issue has been a subject of controversy and discomfort between Brazil and the US after  Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva  threw his prestige and support behind the contested government of President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, last year, as opposition forces were battling in the streets the outcome of a presidential election they denounced as fraudulent. In November, Lula greeted Ahmadinejad in Brasília.

Alongside with joint efforts to deal with the aftermath of the  January 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti, the Iranian nuclear program is likely to be among the most challenging topics of the Brazilian-American relations in the coming months. President Lula and Obama exchanged letters on the subject late last year. This month Brazil took a rotating seat at the United National Security Council, where the international response to Iran’s resistance in bringing its nuclear program into compliance with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Nuclear Treaty  will be debated and decided.   Shannon is scheduled to arrived in Brasília on February 3rd and present his ambassadorial credentials to President Lula in Brasília the next day.

An experienced career diplomat who held the top post for the Americas  at the State Department until last year, Shannon complimented Brazil for delivering some important messages to Teheran on the nuclear issue. He made clear, however, that Brasilia acted on its own initiative and not on behalf or with incentive from Washington, as officials in Brazil have suggested. “I think that it its important to note that Brazil has found a way to deliver some really important messages, and they’re not U.S. messages, they are broadly shared, and those messages have to do with the importance of abiding by international agreements and have to do with respecting human rights and not just political rights, but also the rights of religious freedom, but also the absolute importance for the international community of Iran to address the serious lack of confidence in the transparency of its nuclear program. We’re grateful that the Brazilians could deliver those messages in a straightforward way. Ultimately the test of our diplomacy, not just U.S. diplomacy or Brazilian diplomacy, the larger international effort to deal with Iran, is going to be judged not by our engagement or the processes we use, but by our results, results, and this is what I say about having a fact driven diplomacy. We have to determine what works and what doesn’t work. We have a variety of approaches that are in play already and we’re going to be able to make some determinations soon.”

Click here to read the full transcript of Ambassador Shannon’s remarks.

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