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B’nai B’rith International stands strongly against Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s visit to Iran on May 15, which is being touted as a diplomatic mission to discuss Iran’s nuclear program but gives undue global legitimacy to Iran’s abhorrent leadership.

Lula has become an unofficial negotiator between Tehran and the international community over Iran’s nuclear program, but the Brazilian president’s ties to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raise several reasons to question Lula’s objectivity and willingness to deal with Iran sternly.

With his visit to Iran, Lula, who held a cordial meeting with Ahmadinejad in Brazil last November, grants legitimacy to Ahmadinejad, a leader who openly promotes the destruction of Israel, denies the most horrific crime in the history of mankind—the Holocaust, exports terrorism throughout the world, and conducts an aggressive and dangerous nuclear proliferation program.

“We are distraught that an international leader and well-respected diplomat like Lula would cooperate with Ahmadinejad, a man who enthusiastically suppresses women’s rights and persecutes and tortures political opponents,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Lula, who represents a vibrant democracy, should not seek to develop ties with the terror-backing Tehran regime.”

“Ahmadinejad’s beliefs and the deadly direction in which he has led his nation are well documented,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “However, Lula’s visit to meet with Ahmadinejad is especially worrisome, given Lula’s lenient approach toward Iran’s nuclear program in the past. Unless he changes course quickly and unexpectedly, Lula’s talks with Ahmadinejad have the potential to undermine international efforts aimed at imposing stronger sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program.”