Israeli president visits Brazil, ahead of Iran
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Dueling visits to Brazil by the presidents of Israel and Iran are showing the South American powerhouse’s growing role in Mideast diplomacy.
Israeli President Shimon Peres opens a visit to Brazil on Tuesday, in the Jewish state’s latest bid to battle growing Iranian influence in Latin America. Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due on Nov. 23, and Brazilian officials say Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas may visit later this month.
The visits follow a July trip by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Brazil, during which time he tried to enlist help in stymieing Iran’s alleged effort to build a nuclear weapon.
During his seven years in office, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has maintained a broad range of ties around the world - from Cuba’s Castro brothers to former President George W. Bush to Ahmadinejad - and analysts say he is becoming a key player in Israel’s diplomatic struggles.