Iran nuclear fuel swap deal: Is Brazil's Lula now a diplomatic big boy?
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's brokering of the Iran nuclear fuel swap deal appears to show that mid-level players can have a say in the biggest issues of the day. But if the deal ultimately fails, it could come at a cost to his prestige.
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Iran may have warmed to Brazil because it runs its own peaceful nuclear program and asserts its independence, especially from the US. And in the short-term, the news is likely to give Lula a bounce.Skip to next paragraph
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A former labor leader who has competently steered his country through the global financial crisis, he is already one of the most popular presidents on the globe. President Obama called him “the man” recently.
But some have questioned his motives. In an open letter in The Wall Street Journal by Denis MacShane, a British Labour MP and former minister for Latin America in the Blair administration, summed up the questions many feel about Lula´s embrace of Mr. Ahmadinejad.
“You don't remember me but we met now and then nearly 30 years ago when you were an inspiration to labor movements around the world. Your struggle to create a strong, independent trade union in Brazil helped take your country to its democratic future,” Mr. MacShane wrote. “That is why it is with the most profound sadness that I see you embracing the incarnation of everything that denies human rights, social justice, and all the good that liberation trade unions stood for.”
And he is likely to face more questions, particularly if it turns out that Iran does not follow through on its word, says Mr. Castro Neves.
Some have questioned why Brazil is “punching above its weight” in seeking to put its footprint on the Middle East, he says.
“Brazil puts its credibility on the line, not only for its own nuclear program, but also on major moral issues,” Castro Neves says. “On violation of human rights in Iran, Lula ignored that. And some [are asking], 'Why are we there, when we do not help settle problems in our own backyard?' ”.
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