Lula criticizes US and calls for stronger UN

22/09/2003 - 21h50

New York, 9/23/2003 (Agência Brasil - ABr) - In the dispute for positions of leadership on the international scene, president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva continues to make it clear that he wants one of those positions. Yesterday, during his first day in the US for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, which takes place today, Lula spoke at a seminar on terrorism. The Brazilian president condemned attacks by terrorists, but also criticized the US for arbitrary actions, such as the invasion of Iraq.

Lula had lunch with the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and reiterated his support for UN reforms. He also met with leaders of France and Spain, calling for the strengthening of Mercosur and expanded commercial ties that were more equitable between Brazil and Europe.

"We are deeply concerned about international affairs. We are strongly committed to strengthening multilateral organizations, making them more representative and legitimate," said Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, adding that in spite of the country's forceful positioning on issues, Brazil remains in favor of negotiations, not confrontation.

Today Brazilian foreign policy faces more challenges. Lula will be the first president to speak to the UN General Assembly. He will be followed by George W. Bush.

The president of the US is expected to call for international assistance in Iraq in the form of more boots on the ground. That position runs counter to what many leaders think is needed in Iraq. According to minister Amorim, Brazil will refuse to send in troops. "Our position is that the Iraqi people need to have their independence returned first. That is the only way to restore security."

After his UN speech, Lula will have lunch with German prime minister, Gerard Schroeder. Later he will meet the president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano. (AB)