Ahmadinejad visit to Brazil stirs protests
RIO DE JANEIRO (WJC)–Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due in Brazil this week for what will be the first state visit by an Iranian head of state. The trip has already generated protests in which thousands of demonstrators, many of them Jews, took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Protests in May this year had forced Ahmadinejad to cancel his scheduled visit.
On Sunday, about 800 Brazilians took part in a rally in Rio de Janeiro which was co-organized by Jewish groups. The controversial Iranian leader, who is also visiting Venezuela and Bolivia, said on Sunday before boarding his plane that he hoped to help spearhead a new global order in cooperation with Latin America and Africa.
F”These countries are important and each has a determining role in their region or continent. “New orders should be established in the world. Iran, Brazil and Venezuela in particular can have determining roles in designing and establishing these new orders,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
Ahmadinejad and Brazilian President Lula da Silva are expected to sign cooperation agreements in the fields of biotechnology, energy and agriculture. An Iranian deputy foreign minister told a Brazilian news agency last month that Tehran hoped to expand trade with Brazil to US$ 15 billion (from US$ 2 billion currently) in these fields. About 200 Iranian businessmen are traveling with Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to address the Brazilian Congress and speak to students in Brasilia.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who visited Brazil last week and met Jewish leaders and government officials, criticized the reception for the Iranian president: “Brazil can’t have it both ways. It can’t be a world player and expect to receive Ahmadinejad and have nobody notice. Everyone will notice and none of [the reactions] will be positive,” he told the ‘Financial Times’.
During his first visit to South America’s largest city, Lauder was welcomed Thursday and Friday by Latin American Jewish Congress president Jack Terpins and Claudio Lottenberg, the new president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization.
Venezuela’s ambassador to Tehran, David Velasquez Caraballo, announced earlier this month that new uranium deposits had been discovered in Venezuela and that his country and Iran “are now cooperating on a research and development project. At this juncture, Iran and Venezuela have no nuclear cooperation. But in the future, such cooperation might be established,” he said.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
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