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Blinken meets Brazil's lula amid tension with Israel over Gaza comments

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held discussions with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, addressing their differences regarding Israel's conflict with the Gaza Strip.

Anadolu Agency AMERICAS
Published February 21,2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday amid disagreements about Israel's war against the Gaza Strip.

Blinken's visit to Brazil comes after Lula compared the Israeli war against Gaza to Adolf Hitler's Holocaust against the Jews.

"What's happening in the Gaza Strip isn't a war, it's a genocide," Lula told reporters Sunday on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Ethiopia.

The US said it disagrees with the comments. "We have been quite clear that we do not believe that genocide has occurred in Gaza," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters Tuesday when asked about the remarks.

Luls recalled his ambassador to Israel on Monday, hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz declared the Brazilian president persona non grata as tensions continued to mount.

Blinken "discussed U.S. engagement on the conflict in Gaza, including working urgently with partners to facilitate the release of all hostages and to increase humanitarian assistance and improve protections for Palestinian civilians," according to the State Department's readout of the meeting.

He thanked Lula for Brazil's participation in Ukraine's Peace Formula process, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in the statement.

They discussed other issues, including Brazil's G20 presidency agenda to combat hunger and poverty, mobilize against the climate crisis and making global governance more effective, said Miller.

Blinken highlighted the upcoming US-Brazil bicentennial anniversary in May, and commended Lula for Brazil's role in de-escalating tensions between Guyana and Venezuela concerning the Essequibo region, the statement added.

Blinken also underscored the US position that "Nicolas Maduro must return to implementation of the Barbados electoral roadmap agreement to ensure competitive presidential elections in 2024," said Miller.

The two also discussed Brazil's "long-standing" support for the people of Haiti, Brazil's pledge to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, as well as cooperation on critical minerals with Brazil and on clean energy and diversification of global supply chains, according to the statement.

In an X post after meeting Blinken, Lula said the two talked about peace in Ukraine and in Gaza among other issues such as the G-20 summit, initiative to improve the condition of workers, protection of the environment, energy transition, expansion of investment and cooperation ties between two countries.