AJC Leadership Delegation Visits Brazil, Meets Foreign Minister and Other Top Officials

Mar 16, 2011, 11:59 ET from American Jewish Committee

BRASILIA, Brazil, March 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An American Jewish Committee leadership delegation today concluded a three-day visit to Brasilia and Sao Paulo. Earlier, the group traveled to Santiago and Buenos Aires.

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Among the highlights of the visit to Brazil was a 90-minute meeting with Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota. The conversation focused on Brazil-U.S. relations in anticipation of President Obama's much-anticipated visit to Brazil this weekend; regional concerns; Iran's violation of human rights and pursuit of nuclear-weapons capability; prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace; and the dramatic events currently unfolding in the Arab world.

Earlier this year, Minister Patriota, previously Brazil's Ambassador to the U.S., was appointed to his present position by President Dilma Roussef, who was elected in October to succeed outgoing President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

During the last year of the Lula administration, Brazil recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines and, together with Turkey, opposed a UN Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities. Both decisions were strongly opposed by the United States and Israel.

Other highlights of the visit included a reception for the AJC delegation hosted by U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon and attended by numerous European and Latin American ambassadors; a luncheon organized by Israeli Ambassador Giora Brecher; and a meeting with Mayor Gilberto Kassab of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, and participation in the inauguration of an exhibit on the Holocaust at City Hall.

Dr. Claudio Lottenberg, president of CONIB, Brazilian Jewry's umbrella body, hosted a luncheon for the AJC group to discuss the current state of the community and areas of potential cooperation with AJC.

The Jewish Federation of Sao Paulo, home to an estimated 60,000 Jews, arranged a dinner with 100 young leaders, a number of whom will be attending AJC's Global Forum and young leadership weekend in Washington next month. The Federation also organized a reception with community leaders and attended by the Consuls General of the United States and Israel.

Other meetings took place with Rubens Recupero, who has had a distinguished career as Brazil's Ambassador to the U.S., Minister of Finance, and Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and Jose Serra, former Governor of the State of Sao Paulo and runner-up in last year's presidential run-off.

"In today's world, Brazil is rapidly becoming a regional and global powerhouse," said AJC Executive Director David Harris, who led the 19-person delegation from seven U.S. cities and Panama. "As the largest country in Latin America, a stable democracy and pluralistic society, and one of the strongest economies in the world, Brazil is very much on the move. And as a member of the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council, among other key bodies, it wields considerable diplomatic influence. Moreover, its Jewish community, numbering well over 100,000, is dynamic, diverse, and impressive. For every imaginable reason, at AJC we attach the highest priority, working with our friends in the Brazilian Jewish community, to engaging Brazil's government and society."

The visit to South America was coordinated by Dina Siegel Vann, the Mexican-born Director of AJC's Institute of Latino and Latin American Affairs, with the help of Associate Director Stephanie Guiloff, originally from Chile.

The institute draws on AJC's long engagement with Latin America, dating to the 1940s when the organization established its first office in the region.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee