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Lula and Blinken Meet Over Israel Row

Lula and Blinken Meet Over Israel Row.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held discussions with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday amid heightened diplomatic tensions between Brazil and Israel over the conflict in Gaza.

Blinken, who arrived in the Brazilian capital on Tuesday night, engaged in talks with the veteran leftist Lula at the presidential palace for approximately 45 minutes.

The meeting carried the potential for tension following Lula’s controversial comparison of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust. In remarks made on Sunday, the 78-year-old Lula described Israel’s campaign as “genocide,” drawing parallels to the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.

Israel responded vehemently, declaring Lula “persona non grata.” The dispute escalated further on Tuesday, with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz labeling Lula’s comments as “delusional,” prompting a rebuttal from Brazilian counterpart Mauro Vieira, who accused Katz of lying.

The United States, having recently vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire, refutes accusations of Israeli genocide.

Additionally, the United States and Brazil diverge on their stances regarding Russia’s actions in Ukraine and relations with Venezuela.

No press conference followed Lula and Blinken’s meeting. However, journalists were briefly permitted into the room where the pair conversed about the US presidential election, with Blinken acknowledging the polarization within the United States amid the ongoing primary season leading up to the November polls.

Blinken’s current visit to Brazil marks his inaugural trip to the country since assuming office as the United States’ top diplomat three years ago.

Relations between the United States and Latin America’s largest economy saw a thaw with Lula’s return to power in January 2023, following the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, an ally of former US President Donald Trump.

Shortly after assuming office, Lula visited Washington to meet with President Joe Biden, where both leaders found common ground on issues such as climate change, labor rights, and democratic principles.

However, Lula, known for his independent stance and advocacy for the Global South, has diverged from the United States on matters including Gaza and Ukraine.

Later on Wednesday, Blinken is scheduled to travel to Rio de Janeiro for a G20 foreign ministers meeting, where he is expected to engage with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

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