World trade talks appeared to be making progress on Wednesday as the leaders of Brazil, India and South Africa said they were committed to reaching a deal.

The three leaders said differences with rich countries were still blocking agreement in the Doha round, launched nearly six years ago to help developing countries grow out of poverty and boost the world economy by opening up global trade.

After a summit in Pretoria, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose country is a leader of the G20 developing nations, was confident of a major breakthrough but suggested rich nations should be willing to make greater sacrifices.

"We will reach an agreement. But it's necessary that those who are most in need in the world should be the winners and not the most privileged be the winners," he said.

"The concession they want (the rich nations) in the industrial side are much greater than the concessions we want on the agricultural side."

Trade talks stalled last year as rich and poor nations failed to agree on cutting farm subsidies and cutting tariffs.

The three countries said disagreements with rich nations over agriculture remained a stumbling block.

In Washington, Brazil's ambassador to the United States, Antonio Patriota, told the U.S.-Brazil Business Council: "I think on the Doha round, we are extremely close to an agreement."

Patriota said U.S. President George W. Bush and Lula had spoken by phone about the issue on Tuesday evening.

Patriota said he had not been briefed on that call yet, but was optimistic about the fate of the round following recent meetings between Bush and Lula at the United Nations and other high-level talks between the United States and Brazil.

"I think we have seen sufficient movement on the part of all participants to be relatively assured that we will be able to reach a satisfactory result very, very soon," Patriota said.


Brazil's president, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Thabo Mbeki met at a summit in Pretoria to discuss ways to ease the reliance of Asia, Latin America and Africa on trade with richer Northern Hemisphere economies.

The three members of the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) bloc highlighted the importance of successfully concluding the Doha round.

Developing countries want the United States to cut its trade-distorting farm subsidies and Washington has said it will move on these.

But Washington will not say how much the politically sensitive support will fall until developing countries commit to a level where they will cut industrial tariffs.

Developing countries complain rich nations want too big a cut in their industrial tariffs, and are waiting for Washington to clarify its farm support before showing their hand.

Brazil, South Africa and India have thrown their weight behind a push for sweeping reforms of the United Nations as they craft a united political front that is at times at odds with Washington and others in the West.

Each is lobbying for a permanent seat on an expanded U.N. Security Council as a means to give developing nations a greater voice in the world body. "We believe that the world demands and needs a change in the U.N.," said Lula.

The Pretoria summit's closing statement called for the removal of restrictions in international agricultural trade.

"The leaders underlined that agriculture remains the key to the conclusion of the round," it said.

Lula suggested rich countries had been dominating trade talks and keeping developing nations on the sidelines.

"We want to eat the main course, the duck and have dessert and coffee afterwards if possible," he said.

(Additional reporting by Doug Palmer in Washington)