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Brazilian Middle East diplomacy

Brazil’s foreign minister, Celso Amorim, is finishing up a controversial three-day swing through the Middle East today. At the center of the controversy: remarks by two of Amorim’s predecessors essentially mocking him for thinking he can be of any use. Not helping the air of neutrality: the statement last week by President Lula’s advisor, Marco Aurelio Garcia, that Israel was engaging in “state terrorism,” and a statement by Lula’s Workers’ Party comparing Israel’s actions with Naziism.

Amorim is striking a more moderate tone in his meetings with Syrian, Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders, calling for a cease-fire and assuring the Israelis that the Nazi comparison is not the official opinion of the government. In an interview with Brazilian reporters in Jerusalem, he noted that he was in agreement with most of the international community that “we need to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians, who are the ones that have suffered the most,” according to the Estado de Sao Paulo.

He also seems to be taking a modest but confident approach to Brazil’s potential role in the region (and, by implication), it's growing role in the world). “I’m not under any illusion that we are here to solve a problem that no one has solved before. But we are a part of overall efforts by the international community,” he said, according to Folha de Sao Paulo.

Today he was scheduled to be in Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II and to officially donate 14 tons of food and medicine destined for Palestinians in Gaza.