Supporters, protesters greet Ahmadinejad in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Dozens supported and protested Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his arrival in Brazil.

Approximately 100 people each for and against Ahmadinejad gathered in front of the Foreign Ministry building Monday.

President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva posed for pictures shaking hands with the Iranian leader.

"It doesn’t help isolating Iran," Lula said in his morning radio program.

Ahmadinejad arrived in the capital of Brasilia seeking support for his controversial nuclear program on the first leg of a South American tour that includes Venezuela and Bolivia. He brought along some 200 businessmen and closed deals in the agricultural, mining, energy, science and technology fields.

Several politicians protested the visit, including Sao Paulo governor Jose Serra.

"It’s uncomfortable to receive in Brazil the leader of a dictatorial and repressive regime," Serra wrote in an article Monday in Brazil’s most influential newspaper, Folha. "After all, we have a recent history of fighting dictatorships, and we have affirmed the ideals of democracy and human rights in our 1988 Constitution."

Thousands of Jews and non-Jews held protests in Brazil’s largest cities over the last week, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Ahmadinejad is the third Middle Eastern leader to visit Brazil this month, following visits by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
 

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