Despite US Push, Brazil Says No to UN Mission in Lebanon

Brazil has decided not to send troops for the United Nations peace mission in Lebanon, in spite of strong lobbying from the United States, according to the Argentine press.

Talking in Beirut, Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, confirmed Tuesday, August 15, that Brazil will not be part of the UN mission. A few hours later Argentina’s Deputy Foreign Affairs minister Roberto Garcia Moritan made a similar announcement.

Apparently Argentina and Brazil coordinated a common position in the issue in spite of the strong pressure from United States for the integration of troops from the two countries to the peace effort.

Both Brasilia and Buenos Aires assessed that in the event of a participation in Lebanon with forces, political disadvantages were greater than benefits.

Argentina in the last ten years has suffered two major terrorist attacks: one against the Israel embassy in Buenos Aires which was flattened and a second against a local Jewish organization that left hundreds dead and wounded. President Kirchner administration believes that an active involvement, even for peace purposes, could generate further risks, points out the Argentine press.

Brazil on the other hand has at least ten million residents who descend from Lebanese and Syrian immigrants and also a very powerful, in financial terms, Jewish community.

In Beirut Amorim is quoted telling Lebanese Premier Fuaud Siniora that the “Lula administration has no expectations of mediating in a crisis of such nature”.

If the request was in a context of “clear undisputed willingness to peace, we would be present”, pointed out Amorim who arrived in Beirut with nine tons of relief aid, mostly donations from the Lebanese community in Brazil. “One thing is a cease fire, but it’s also crucial that dialogue is resumed”, Amorim summed up Brazil’s position.

Apparently the Brazilian official was very impressed to see Brazilian flags and colous flying from many of the Israeli bombed quarters in Beirut. Actually the Brazilian Air Force rescued many Lebanese-Brazilians during the month long conflict.

Amorim also made it clear the Lula administration has no intention of debilitating its relations with Israel.

“We want to maintain the good relations with Israel. And we also want to persuade them to resume dialogue because that’s where hope lies,” emphasized the Brazilian official.

From Chile, another country with significant Middle East and Jewish communities, plus a long record of collaboration with UN peace efforts, the attitude was similar. Chilean military sources said that the Lebanese situation needs hardy proven forces and a solemn commitment from both sides.

“First it’s the duty of countries with high military capability, and then with a stabilized situation, Chile could operate in the zone”.

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