Lula Tells Peres Why Brazil Talks to Iran and Is Invited to Turn On Middle East Lights

Lula and Peres in BrasÀ­lia Talking to journalists in Brazilian capital BrasÀ­lia and standing close to Israeli president Shimon Peres. the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defended the visit of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil. You cannot have peace without talking to everyone involved in the matter, he argued.

For the Brazilian president if the dialogue occurs only between countries that think alike they will just get a club of friends that will never achieve peace. Lula was responding to a Israeli reporter who wanted to know how Lula could justify the visit of a leader who denies that the holocaust ever happened.

Lula recalled that in 1993 he was in Israel as president of the Workers Party (PT) when he met Shimon Peres. In 1994 he went back to the Middle East for an encounter with Yasser Arafat, then the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) leader.

Those visits and meetings he said brought him the strong belief that a peace agreement in the region would need the participation of Peres and Arafat. "Today we have only 50% chance of putting both together," added Lula in a reference to Arafat's death. "We need to talk more. We have no veto to talk to anyone whatsoever."

The Brazilian leader also said, "You do not build the necessary peace in the Middle East if you don't talk to all the political and religious forces that want peace and that are opposed to peace. If not you'll turn the negotiation process into a friends club where everybody is in agreement and whoever  dissents is left out, making peace impossible."

"Now we need to talk more and meet more interlocutors who wish to help with building peace in the Middle East. And we have nothing against talking to anyone as long as from that conversation we can extract a word, or just a comma, that can contribute for the construction of peace."

After listening to Lula, Peres responded with a metaphor that seemed a little awkward after the massive blackout in Brazil on Tuesday, when 18 states were left in the dark for hours.

"I understand that the president introduced a program called Light for All. Therefore, light for all of us. Mr. president, come and turn on the lights in the Middle East."

Lula and Peres held conversations on several matters including tourism, movies and technical cooperation.

On November 23, Lula will receive the Iranian president, a visit that has generated a lot of criticism from the Jewish community in Brazil and from other quarters around the world.

In his speech, after signing bilateral agreements, and careful not to mention Iran by name, Lula said that Brazil rejects all acts of terrorism, under any pretext, and no matter where it comes from. 

Peres, on the other hand, reiterated that his government will keep its current position on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. He stressed that Israel will maintain its policy of vegetative growth in the three places in Cisjordan where there are already settlements, an attitude that seems to preclude negotiations with the Palestine National Authority who demands the end of those communities.

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