As Ahmadinejad was coming from a visit to the Brazilian parliament in Brasilia on Monday, Lula was waiting for him, virtually alone. The embrace by Lula was sudden, spontaneous, extremely warm; it’s fair to assume Ahmadinejad was not expecting it. Those who saw it interpreted it as a graphic message.
Ahmadinejad did mean business: he traveled with 200 Iranian businessmen. In the long run, Brazil wants to export to Iran not only meat, grains and sugar, but also trucks and buses. And Iran wants to invest heavily in the oil industry, petrochemicals, agriculture, minerals and real estate. Lula will visit Iran in March or April 2010, also with a business caravan.
Lula and Ahmadinejad signed agreements on energy, trade and agricultural research in the latest round of what is becoming an increasingly warm embrace between Latin America and the Middle East.
The meat of the matter was, of course, nuclear energy. US President Barack Obama admitted at the Group of 20 gathering in London this year that Lula “is the man” – and opinion polls back him up, with the Brazilian leader at present the world’s most popular political leader, with an approval rating of 79%; Obama has just slipped below 50%. So what is “the man” saying? He’s saying that Brazil supports Iran’s access to “peaceful nuclear energy”.
When Lula talks, world leaders do listen; nor is he shy about running through a roll call of those he “advises” on how to behave with Iran.
“I told Obama, I told [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, I told [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel that we will not get good things out of Iran if we corner them. You need to create space to talk.” This is not only Lula talking – it’s BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) talk. Carefully balancing his act, Lula at the same time defended the rights of “a safe and secure state of Israel”. read more…