1708542948 Lula receives Blinken amid diplomatic crisis between Brazil and Israel

Lula receives Blinken amid diplomatic crisis between Brazil and Israel over Gaza

Lula receives Blinken amid diplomatic crisis between Brazil and Israel

The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, received this Wednesday the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, in a meeting that lasted almost two hours, coinciding with the serious diplomatic crisis between Brazil and Israel, which the South American president himself opened by comparison the invasion of Gaza with the Holocaust. “I would say it was a frank exchange that made it clear that we disagree with those comments. [del mandatario brasileño]” a senior State Department official said after the meeting, according to Portal. This is a personal matter for Blinken, whose stepfather survived the Jewish genocide. After the meeting, the American said that both countries “work together bilaterally, regionally and globally.” And the Brazilian presidency has reported that Lula insisted on the urgency of ending the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and that both agreed on the need to create a Palestinian state. You also talked about Venezuela.

Blinken, who met Lula in Brasilia, attended a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro in the afternoon along with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and other colleagues from the world's major economies. It is the second face-to-face meeting between the two since Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago. The heads of American and Russian diplomacy had a brief face-to-face meeting at the recent G20 summit in New Delhi.

The discrepancies between the United States and Brazil regarding Gaza and Ukraine are evident. Although Israel's intervention in Gaza has already killed more than 29,000 Palestinians, most of them women, children and teenagers, Washington has once again put its close political and military alliance with Israel first, rejecting a UN Security Council resolution to do so to demand a ceasefire. Lula calls for an immediate ceasefire and the release of the hostages held by Hamas. Brazil supports a negotiated solution to Russia's war against Ukraine.

In his welcoming speech, the Brazilian foreign minister, diplomat Mauro Vieira, called on his G-20 colleagues to use the Brazilian recipe for resolving differences between countries: more dialogue and promotion of trust and less use of military force, intimidation, sanctions or espionage. “We talk about this from experience, not from idealism,” he stressed, pointing out that the G-20 is probably the only forum where “countries with opposing visions still sit at the same table and have productive conversations.” The duels also take place in the Security Council.

Brazil's president said last week in Egypt that there was a shortage of pacifist countries and a surplus of belligerents in the United Nations' highest decision-making body. The Russian and American veto power has neutralized all attempts to stop the wars in Gaza and Ukraine through the UN.

Mediation between Venezuela and Guyana

In their morning meeting, Lula and Blinken also addressed the situation in Venezuela. The American thanked the President for Brazilian mediation efforts between Venezuela and Guyana. Washington sees Brazil as an ally in its efforts to push Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to hold democratic elections in the coming months, a goal that currently appears unfeasible given the adamant opposition. Refusal of the Chavista authorities to allow opposition candidate María Corina Machado to take part in the elections.

Lula, who sought to free Maduro from diplomatic ostracism in the first months of his term, has remained explicitly silent in recent weeks on Chavismo's latest maneuvers to prevent democratic elections.

The Brazilian president is heavily criticized in the local press for his double standards: On the one hand, he condemns the Israeli war in Gaza as genocide. At the same time, he is very cautious about the authoritarian movements in Venezuela and Nicaragua, at least in public. Lula's team believes it is a priority to keep channels open to both Latin American regimes in order to discreetly exert pressure on them.

It is also important for the US to strengthen cooperation with Brazil on the supply of rare metals and restive Haiti.

Brazil holds the rotating presidency of the G-20 until December. It is one of the few populous countries, perhaps the only one, that maintains good relations with all major international powers. He prides himself on having conflicts with virtually no one. That is why the level of bitterness in the scuffle with Israel is so striking. The Netanyahu government reacted scathingly to Lula's comparison between Gaza and the extermination of the Jews: it announced that it would not be welcome in the Jewish state until it withdrew, and Foreign Minister Israel Katz scolded the Brazilian ambassador at the Holocaust Museum.

Lula refuses to give in, and the crisis has deepened with diplomatic gestures, further statements and tweets that Brazilian diplomacy considers lies or Israeli misrepresentations, until it has reached a level of violent verbal confrontations, something not so new in Israel is, but in Brazil it is.

The wars in Gaza and Ukraine as well as the international situation are the highlight of the debates on this first day of the meeting of G-20 foreign ministers. Thursday is dedicated to medium-term proposals such as the reform of multilateral organizations. Prominent among the absences at the Rio meeting is the chancellor of China, Brazil's partner in the newly expanded BRICS countries. The event in Rio is a preparatory meeting for the summit of heads of state planned in Rio in November.

This year, Brazil holds the rotating presidency of the club, which brings together the 19 largest economies in the world and the European Union, accounting for 85% of global GDP, two-thirds of the population and 75% of world trade. The African Union (55 states) is taking part in this event in Rio de Janeiro for the first time.

The Lula government's three priority issues for this G-20 presidency are the fight against hunger and poverty, the energy transition in its various aspects, and the reform of the UN Security Council, the IMF and the WTO so that they reflect the current power balances, not the one at the end of World War II.

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