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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Blinken Visits Brazil Amid Tensions with Israel


Wed 21 Feb 2024 | 11:55 AM
Israa Farhan

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Brazil on Tuesday for his first visit to the country since assuming office.

The visit comes days after Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sparked outrage in Israel by comparing its military operation in Gaza to the "Jewish Holocaust," according to Agence France-Presse.

Blinken's visit will begin in Brasília, followed by a trip to Rio de Janeiro to attend a G20 foreign ministers' meeting before stopping in Argentina to meet with newly elected President Javier Milei.

This overdue first visit by Blinken offers an opportunity to forge relations with the leaders of the two Latin American nations and provides a break from his challenging trips to the Middle East.

However, the conflicts in that region unexpectedly follow him to Latin America after Lula's strong condemnation of Israel's actions in Gaza following the announcement of his meeting with Blinken.

During a visit to Ethiopia for an African Union summit, the 78-year-old veteran leftist president stated, "What's happening in Gaza is not war, it's genocide." Lula added, "What's happening in Gaza with the Palestinian people has not happened at any other moment in history. It happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews."

This comparison angered Israel, which declared Lula "persona non grata." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Brazilian president had "crossed the red line."

Israel's Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz summoned the Brazilian Ambassador Frederico Mayer, and in response, Brazil summoned its ambassador to Israel for consultations.

Washington expressed its disagreement with Lula's statements yesterday. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters that the US rejects these statements.