Brazilian President attacks UN in London

Brazilian president Luiz Ignácio da Silva condemned UN inaction over the Middle Eastern conflict on Monday, as Tony Blair prepared to meet Israeli premier Ariel Sharon.

Speaking at the London School of Economics, not far from Downing Street, the leader, known simply as 'Lula', said: “It’s fundamental to reform the practices of the UN. The Security Council must take majority decisions and these decisions must be respected.

“If it was like this the conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians would have been resolved long ago.”

On Sunday Lula met with British PM Tony Blair, who supported Brazilian calls for a permanent place on the Security Council.

In his speech Lula also pledged support for Africa, on the eve of his official visit to the continent.

“In the past Brazil virtually forgot Africa,” the president told a 1,000-strong audience. “[But] Brazil has historic, moral and cultural responsibilities to Africa… We have obligations to Africans.”

The Workers’ Party (PT) president spoke of his desire to transform the debate on global poverty and human rights. “We must form a new pact for peace,” he said.

Abandoning his script, Lula drew comparisons between politics and marriage to widespread laughter.

“I would like international politics to be like [my wife] Marisa and I. We met each other, married five months later and we’re still doing business 30 years on,” he joked.

Lula focused too on domestic issues, repeating election pledges to fight corruption, poverty and unemployment, through his Zero Hunger and First Job programs.

“My primary aim is to solve our problem,” he said, stabbing both fists into the air.

The president promised to defend overseas scholarships, and urged Brazilians studying in England to engage with the development of their “dear country”.

He also called for closer ties between Latin American countries.

“Our priority is South America… We in Latin America constantly speak of integration… but it has never been more than words,” he said.

Lula was in London for the Progressive Governance summit, organised by 'New Labour' architect Peter Mandelson.

The speech, which closed a three day visit, was hosted by Anthony Giddens, the man credited with creating the ‘third way’ model of politics.

Introducing the South American leader, Giddens said Lula was “a man who could change not just Brazil, but the whole world.”