Brazilian president urges immediate end to Gaza blockade
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday called for lifting of Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip and creation of an "independent, sovereign, cohesive" Palestinian state that can live in peace with Israel, Xinhua reported.
When meeting with his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al-Assad, Lula reiterated his country's position that the conflicts in the Middle East affect everyone and should be resolved peacefully through negotiation.
"It is an urgency to see the region in peace," he said, adding that is the message he took during his recent visits to Israel, Gaza, Jordan, Qatar and Iran.
In particular, the Brazilian president demanded an end to the three-year-old blockade on Gaza after the raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in late May, which killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.
"We believe that blockades do not contribute to peace. The incident with the humanitarian fleet, being attacked in international waters, shows that it is time to lift the blockade on Gaza," he said.
"There will be no true reconciliation if there are winners and losers. We like to see the region at peace with all people living in harmony."
Lula also said he supports the return to Syria the Golan Heights captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war.
"We support the principle of 'land for peace' to ensure the return of the Golan Heights to Syria," he said.
For his part, Assad hailed an agreement reached by Tehran with Brazil and Turkey on May 17 for the exchange of Iranian low-enriched uranium, which was rejected by the Western powers.
"This agreement shows Iran's willingness to negotiate, while Israel threatens peace in the region with the possession of nuclear weapons," he said.
After the meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements on extradition, educational and health.
In the past few years, Brazil and Syria increased their economic relations. Trade volume between the two countries jumped from 78 million U.S. dollars in 2003 to 307 million U.S. dollars last year.