Brazil’s Lula Answers Obama’s Letter. Disagreements Persist

Minister Celso Amorim from Brazil Brazil's Foreign Relations minister Celso Amorim told reporters that he talked for about an hour this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, with US's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and that there is no crisis between Washington and BrasÀ­lia.

Recent facts, including the visit of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a letter sent by US president Barack Obama to the Brazilian president led some analysts to comment that the relations between Brazil and the United States were on shaky territory. 

Lula's special adviser for International Affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia, also talked with the US's National Security adviser, Jim Jones. Earlier this week, Garcia had complained about several US actions including its position on Honduras, global warming and the World Trade Organization's Doha round of talks. Garcia said the Obama administration's policy towards Latin American had a taste of disappointment.

Amorim revealed that Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sent this Thursday an answer to the letter received Sunday from Obama. In a three-page document, the US leader had broached several subjects both countries should discuss. Brazil added two more: US-Brazil cooperation in Haiti and the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.

Lula's letter, Amorim commented had a friendly and candid tone the same attributes of Obama's message. "We don't need to always agree," said Amorim. "The important is to talk", Amorim told reporters just before the start of the Summit of the Amazon Countries and of France on climate.

The "extremely friendly" letter, according to Amorim, will certainly stimulate a "comprehensive dialogue," which he says already exists between both countries.

Aware of the uneasiness caused by the leak in Brazil of the Obama letter's content, which brought complaints to the Itamaraty (Foreign Ministry) from American authorities, Amorim abstained from revealing specific points of Lula's message. "Diplomatic mail has to be treated with discretion," he argued.

The minister told, however, that the Brazilian president wrote about his impressions on his conversations with Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, presidents of Israel and the National Palestine Authority, respectively.

Amorim also mentioned that Lula told Obama about the need to strengthen the cooperation between the US and Brazil in order to build infrastructure projects in Haiti, where Brazil has been heading an international force put together by the United Nations.

"Brazil has this obsession that if the country does not agree with the US than we're going to be hit on the head by lightning. It is not like that," he assured.

The presidents' letters deal with the position of both countries on some matters Brazil and the United States don't see eye to eye. They include Iran's conduct concerning its nuclear program, negotiations to liberalize global trade, the situation in Honduras where an election is ready to be held, and Copenhagen's December conference on global warming.

In his mail Obama praised Lula's dialogue with Ahmadinejad and asked the Brazilian president to convey to the Iranian leader that Washington's position on the nuclear question had suffered a real change. He also requested that Lula talked to the president of Iran about human rights and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Obama administration has argued in recent weeks that the elections in Honduras would put an end to the crisis started with the coup d'état that ousted president Manuel Zelaya from power. Zelaya ended up reentering the country clandestinely and taking refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. That's where he's been for the last two months.

The Brazilian Foreign minister, however, let Clinton know, this Thursday, that Brazil won't accept the results of the Sunday's election in Honduras whoever the winner is. Obama condemned the coup when it occurred, but according to the Brazilian authorities, caved in due to pressure by Republican legislators.

"We argued very politely. We disagreed. We will see how things evolve," said Amorim referring to his conversation with the secretary of State.

"A coup d'état cannot be legitimized as a way of political change," said Amorim. "Our concern," added aide Garcia echoing Amorim, "is that the theory of the preventive coup be introduced  in Latin America."

Garcia pointed out that approving Micheletti's "adventure" will encourage other countries to oust their legitimate elected leaders increasing political instability in Latin America.

On Thursday, Honduras's Supreme Court ruled that the ousted president cannot legally return to power, diminishing even more Zelaya's chance to regain his post.


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