Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva yesterday acknowledged tension with Argentina but predicted it is only “a temporary problem” which he attributed to “jealousy” over his country’s bid to take a permanent seat in the United Nations’ Security Council.
It was the first time the Brazilian head-of-state referred to the rift, which was sparked by Argentine government officials’ complaints that Brazil was not paying enough attention to the Mercosur trade bloc.
“It is just a temporary problem between brothers and it should not affect our work toward integration in South America,” said the center-left leader.
President Néstor Kirchner has not made public comments on the row, which was sparked by remarks by Foreign Minister, Rafael Bielsa, and other diplomatic sources.
Bielsa complained that Brazil had failed to satisfy Argentina’s request last year for a fairer trade relationship, as Brazilian exports to Argentina have been increasingly outnumbering Argentina’s exports to Brazil, Argentina’s leading trade partner.
But Argentina’s unrest is also reportedly linked to Brazil’s ambitions to seek a dominant role in regional diplomacy by, among other things, clinching a permanent seat in the Security Council once the UN body is reformed.
Argentina instead wants a seat to be allocated to Latin America and to rotate among its members.
Lula said yesterday that Brazil’s Security Council bid is causing “some jealousy” among neighboring countries.
Argentina has also expressed concern at Brazil’s efforts to mediate in a recent political crisis in Ecuador which led to the resignation of president Lucio Gutiérrez. Argentina said that all mediation should proceed via the Organization of American States (OAS).
Argentine government sources said that Kirchner is likely to go to Brasília next week, where Lula is hosting a summit of South American and Arab countries aimed at encouraging trade between the two regions.
The sources said that Kirchner and Lula might meet in private then to further chill the tension.
This article appeared originally in Mercopress.