Blinken heads to Brazil after Lula’s Israel denunciation

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken takes half in a panel dialogue on the Munich Safety Convention on February 17, 2024 (THOMAS KIENZLE)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed Tuesday on his first journey to Brazil, days after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s enraged Israel by evaluating its Gaza marketing campaign to the Holocaust.

Blinken will begin in Brasilia, and likewise go to Rio de Janeiro for the Group of 20 summit, adopted by a cease in Argentina, the place he’ll see new President Javier Milei.

For the highest US diplomat, the belated first journey to the Latin American powers had been seen as a possibility to construct ties with two key leaders, in a break from his exhaustive journeys to the Center East.

However the turmoil engulfing that area will unexpectedly observe him to Latin America after Lula, on the heels of the announcement of his assembly with Blinken, sharply denounced Israel’s combating in Gaza.

The 78-year-old veteran leftist, on a visit to Ethiopia for an African Union summit, stated that what was taking place within the Gaza Strip “is not a struggle, it is a genocide.”

“What’s taking place within the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian folks hasn’t occurred at some other second in historical past. Truly, it has occurred: when Hitler determined to kill the Jews,” Lula stated.

The comparability outraged Israel, which declared Lula “persona non grata” and the place Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated the Brazilian president had “crossed a pink line.”

State Division spokesman Matthew Miller stated of Lula’s remarks, “Clearly we disagree with these feedback.”

“We’ve been fairly clear that we don’t consider that genocide has occurred in Gaza,” Miller informed reporters Tuesday.

The struggle began October 7, when Hamas launched an unprecedented assault that left about 1,160 folks lifeless in southern Israel, largely civilians, in keeping with an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Hamas militants additionally took about 250 hostages — 130 of whom stay in Gaza, together with 30 presumed lifeless, in keeping with Israel.

Israel’s retaliatory marketing campaign has killed greater than 29,092 folks, largely girls and kids, in keeping with the newest rely by the Hamas-run territory’s well being ministry.

President Joe Biden has been Israel’s key backer, with america on Tuesday once more vetoing a ceasefire name on the Safety Council, at the same time as Biden voices concern over the toll on civilians and presses Israel to let in additional assist.

– Outspoken Brazilian leaders –

The possibly awkward encounter with Lula comes after hopes of a brand new begin in US-Brazil relations following one other outspoken president.

Blinken’s first journey as secretary of state to Brazil comes greater than three years into his tenure, an unusually lengthy wait to go to the Western Hemisphere’s most populous nation after america.

However the Biden administration had restricted curiosity in coping with Lula’s predecessor, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, an ally of former president Donald Trump who equally scoffed at local weather motion and is underneath investigation for an alleged try and overturn a democratic election.

Lula, who beforehand served as president from 2003 to 2010, traveled to Washington and met with Biden after returning to energy early final yr.

The 2 veteran politicians discovered frequent trigger on prioritizing local weather change, labor rights and democratic values.

However Lula has already proven his divergence with america on the worldwide stage together with his stance on Ukraine.

He has charged that each Ukraine and its Western backers bear partial duty for the struggle, not simply Russia, which invaded nearly precisely two years in the past.

The G20 assembly of international ministers in Rio de Janeiro will mark a uncommon event for the reason that struggle during which Blinken can be in the identical room as Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov.

On the final G20 international ministers’ assembly in New Delhi in March 2023, Blinken held his solely one-on-one in-person assembly, albeit briefly, with Lavrov for the reason that struggle.

No assembly has been introduced in Rio, and america is transferring to take extra punitive steps in Russia after the dying in jail of Alexei Navalny, the highest opponent of President Vladimir Putin.

Blinken will head after Rio to Argentina to see Milei, who took workplace in December on a libertarian, anti-establishment platform.

In a pointy distinction with Lula, Milei is among the most vocal worldwide supporters of Israel, which he visited earlier this month.

Milei has promised to maneuver Argentina’s embassy to Jerusalem, a step taken solely by america and 4 small nations.

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