‘I Won’t Quarrel with Chavez, He’s My Friend,’ Says Brazil’s Lula

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva admitted Friday, July 6, the existence of problems between BrasÀ­lia and Caracas, although he downplayed the tone of the dispute with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, whom he called my "friend."

"Nobody can make me quarrel with President Chavez who is my friend," said the Brazilian president during an interview with the French television channel France 24.

Lula statements come in the midst of a dispute with Venezuela over her incorporation request to Mercosur and following Chavez warnings about a withdrawal if the Brazilian congress does not approve it.

"We have similar problems to the European Union," admitted Lula who insisted that "there's no crisis".

However the Brazilian president pointed out that Venezuela still is not a member of the block, therefore it cannot abandon it and recalled that the Congress which allegedly is "offensive" to Chavez is the same one that came to his defense when there was a coup to oust him.

"It's one of those contradictions of politics with which one must learn to live, otherwise we would be fighting all the time".

This week Argentine president Nestor Kirchner revealed he had approached his Brazilian counterpart to try and accelerate the approval by the Brazilian Congress of Venezuela's Mercosur incorporation protocol.

The incident began when the Brazilian Congress in an open letter asked Chavez to reconsider his decision not to renew Venezuela's main and longest established television station RCTV. Chavez reacted calling Brazilian Senators "parrots of Washington" adding he would only wait until September to have Venezuela's Mercosur incorporation protocol approved.

From Lisbon Lula said that if Chavez does not want to stay, let him not stay, "to become a member of Mercosur there are rules, but none to leave".

Mercopress

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