RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Brazil’s President justified the scheduled visit of Iran’s president to his country in two weeks.
President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva rejected criticism over the upcoming visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, slated for Nov. 23.
"You don’t build the necessary peace in the Middle East if you don’t talk to all the political and religious forces that both want peace and are opposed to peace", Lula told journalists Wednesday during a joint press conference with Israel’s President Shimon Peres in Brasilia.
Peres has had a weeklong agenda in Brazil, which includes meetings with government officials and businessmen. Peres also gave a historic speech in Brazil’s Congress about the political, economical and cultural ties between Israel and Brazil.
"I don’t want to discuss Iran here on Brazilian soil. But I can’t ignore the fact that their government is developing nuclear weapons and wants to destroy Israel," Peres said.
The first Israeli president to visit Brazil in 40 years, Peres was granted the title of honorary citizen of Brasilia, Brazil’s capital.
Between Peres’ and Ahmadinejad’s visits, President Lula will welcome Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Nov. 20.