Patriota keen on closer ties with Arab world
24 February 2011
Brazilian foreign minister Antonio Patriota confirmed in a recent interview with the Brazil-Arabic news agency (Agência de Notícias Brasil-Árabe) that Brazil intends to pursue closer economic and political ties with the Arab world as part of the ongoing process of ‘diversification of partnerships’ that became a major feature of Brazilian foreign policy during the governments of President Lula.
Patriota believes it is natural that Brazil has long attached particular value to its relationship is relations with the Arab world, given how many Brazilians have Arab ancestry. (The number of Brazilians of Lebanese or Syrian extraction, for example, is actually greater than the combined populations of Lebanon and Syria.) He noted that the governments of President Lula made steps towards intensifying those relations, and that President Lula himself was the first Brazilian president to address a plenary session of the Arab League in Cairo. Brazil has since assumed the status of observer in the Arab League.
He underlined the importance of the South American–Arab countries (América do Sul–Países Árabes – ASPA) summits, a bi-regional mechanism which since 2005 has been working towards increasing cooperation, including trade and investment, between South America and the Arab League. President Rousseff was due to attend the ASPA summit in Lima, Peru, this month, but the event was postponed due to the current political unrest in many Arab countries.
He also expressed the hope that the relationship between the civil societies of South America and the Arab world would become closer – particularly at a time when the protests in Arab countries are making clear a widespread aspiration towards greater democracy.
Patriota said that Brazil’s current membership of the UN Security Council (it has held the presidency of the Security Council during February) made it particularly important to maintain a high-level political dialogue with the Arab countries, so as to be able to address important issues such as Israel-Palestine. He added that he sees it as positive that Brazil, India and South Africa are currently on the Security Council, as the fact that all three countries have good relations both with the Arab World and Israel raises the possibility of their acting as a support group in the context of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Source: Agência de Notícias Brasil-Árabe and Embassy of Brazil in London
Read the whole interview (in Portuguese)