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Turkey in Tehran talks to resolve nuclear deadlock

The Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, flew to Tehran last night, seeking to seal a deal with Iran on a nuclear fuel swap that could help end a stand-off with the West over its atomic programme.

Mr Erdogan will join the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been in Tehran negotiating with Iranian officials in what Western and Russian authorities have said is probably the last chance to avoid new UN sanctions against Iran.

Last October, a UN-backed deal was offered to Iran to ship 1,200kg of its low-enriched uranium – enough for a single bomb if purified to a high-enough level – to Russia and France to turn into fuel. Iran later said it would swap it only for higher-grade material and only on its own soil, conditions other parties in the deal said were unacceptable.

"I am going to Iran because a clause will be added to the proposal which says the swap will take place in Turkey," Mr Erdogan said. "I guarantee that we will find the opportunity to overcome these problems, God willing."

President Lula also told reporters after holding talks with Iranians that "the level of hope [to reach an agreement] has increased".

The Brazilian leader has met the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on all Iranian state matters such as Iran's nuclear activities.

Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, have offered to mediate to find a resolution to the impasse at a time when world powers are in talks to impose a fourth round of UN sanctions on Iran. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said on Friday that Lula's mediation effort would fail.