Brazilian president places wreath on Arafat’s tomb

Mohammed Daraghmeh-The Miami Herald, 03/17/10

Brazil’s president placed a wreath on the tomb of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Wednesday and sharply criticized Israeli policies, leading Israeli officials to suggest he was not being evenhanded.

Making the first visit by any sitting Brazilian president to Israel and the Palestinian territories, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has termed the trip amission of peace.” The visit appears aimed at helping Brazil emerge as a bigger player in foreign affairs.

Brazil could play a bridging role: the country is Israel’s largest trading partner in Latin America, but also has close ties to Iran, Israel’s archenemy. Silva has been a defender of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which Israel sees as a potentially grave threat.

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