Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in Brazil for a day-long visit aimed at boosting ties with Latin America’s largest economy.
Ahmadinejad was earlier in the Gambian capital, Banjul, where he received a warm welcome from Gambians. His stay in Gambia ended with promises of new economic cooperation between Tehran and Banjul.
Ahmadinejad will meet with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to discuss bilateral economic and political ties. The Iranian president is accompanied by a delegation of representatives from Iran’s private sector.
The visit comes days after Israeli President Shimon Peres wrapped up his regional tour which included the fifth largest country in the world to garner support against the Islamic Republic.
Peres’s week-long visit to Brazil and Argentina, the first trip to the countries after 40 and 20 years respectively, comes amid Iran’s amicable relationship with Latin American countries.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has thrown his weight behind Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear program aimed at peaceful purposes in September’s UN gathering in New York.
Iran’s close ties with Latin America and particularly Brazil has been a cause of major concern both for Israel and its staunch ally, the US.
A day after Iran’s ambassador to Brazil announced that Ahmadinejad and a large entourage of 110 representatives from 65 companies were to visit Brasilia early May 2009, US Secretary of State dubbed the development as “quite disturbing.”
Blaming US President Barack Obama’s predecessor for “Iran gains” in the region, the top US diplomat noted “I don’t think in today’s world, where it’s a multi-polar world, where we are competing for attention and relationships with the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, that it’s in our interest to turn our backs on our own hemisphere.”
The Israeli president’s visit to the two Latin American countries, home to the largest Jewish community in the region, also led to angry demonstrations against the trip.
Demonstrators denounced Tel Aviv’s deadly offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip which killed more than 1400 people, a large number of them women and children.
In Argentina, protestors carried placards which read “Get out of Argentina, murderer Shimon Peres”, “Death to Zionist-fascist Israel, officer of American imperialism in the Middle East, murderers of the Palestinian people!”.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Israeli President had been hailed as “Shimon Hitler”, during protests. Demonstrators carried placards showing Peres, sporting a short Hitlerian mustache standing next to an Israeli flag upon which a swastika had been drawn.