LISBON (Reuters) – Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he did not want to “please anyone” with his views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after drawing criticism in the West for suggesting Kiev was partly responsible for the war. .
Speaking in Lisbon on Saturday at the start of his first visit to Europe since being elected president, Lula said his goal was to “build a way to bring both (Russia and Ukraine) to the negotiating table.”
“I want to find a third alternative (to resolve the conflict), which is building peace,” he told a news conference.
Lula has been criticized in the West for suggesting responsibility for the conflict, which began when Moscow invaded its neighbor Ukraine and Russia in February 2022.
He said last week that the United States and European allies should stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, saying they were prolonging the war.
“If you are not making peace,” said Lula, “you are contributing to the war.”
The White House accused Lula of “churning” Russian and Chinese propaganda.
Lula arrived in Portugal on Friday for a five-day visit as he strives to improve foreign relations.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, who accompanied Lula at the press conference, said their country’s stance on the war is different.
Portugal is a founding member of NATO and has sent military equipment to Ukraine. Rebelo de Souza said that Ukraine had the right to defend itself and “take back” its territory.
Lula’s comments about the war angered the Ukrainian community in Portugal, where a demonstration was held outside the Brazilian embassy on Friday.
Earlier on Saturday, Lula attended a welcoming ceremony outside the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon. Two Supporters of Ukraine who carried a flag and banner were not allowed to stand near the celebration area because they were told by police officers that they had not asked permission to protest.
Portugal, which has about 300,000 Brazilians, and Brazil will sign various agreements during the visit related to technology, energy transition, tourism and culture.
Brazil said Portugal could be an “important ally” to help the South American bloc Mercosur negotiate a free trade deal with the European Union.
Additional reporting by Catarina Demoni, Miguel Pereira and Rodrigo Antunes; Editing by Mike Harrison
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