The Brazilian government has backed away from the idea of creating a “peace club” to mediate in the war in Ukraine – a project that had been discussed by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva since last year when he was running for office.
The Brazilian government had proposed inviting China, Turkey, India, the European Union and the United States to mediate a potential peace process between Kyiv and Moscow.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira addressed the topic at a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, soon after the first meeting between Lula and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.
According to Vieira, “there was never a proposal for a ‘peace club’, president [Lula] never proposed such a thing”.
“We only want to promote the possibility of discussing peace. Participating [in the negotiations] is another matter. If we are invited, we will be there, as we were in the Copenhagen process,” Vieira said, referring to the summit held in June in the Danish capital to discuss a way out of the war.
The foreign minister’s recent statements appear at odds with his earlier remarks, including an interview with the Financial Times in which Vieira not only acknowledged the “peace club” initiative but also noted “President Lula’s active efforts to assemble a coalition of countries” to spearhead peace talks.
Speaking to the Portuguese press, the minister later mentioned China, India, the US and the EU as potential mediators. His remarks were highlighted in the Portuguese edition of the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party.
However, the idea lost momentum on the eve of Lula’s trip to China in April. The Brazilian president wanted to leave Beijing with a concrete signal of Chinese support for the club, but sources familiar with the matter told the Post that Chinese President Xi Jinping showed no interest in getting involved in the negotiations at the time.
This account, however, was not confirmed by Celso Amorim, a senior adviser to Lula on foreign policy, who said he would refrain from commenting on statements from undisclosed sources.
“What I can say is that China did not participate in the first meeting in Copenhagen organised by the United States with the Ukrainians. We participated and insisted that China should be present, and at the next meeting in Jeddah [in August], they were also there,” he said.
Despite the official refutation of a formal “peace club” proposition, Lula, speaking to reporters as he departed his New York hotel, reiterated his suggestion to Zelensky on assembling a cadre of “friendly countries” to craft a peace proposal, albeit this time without specifying any nations.
“Negotiating is much cheaper than war, there are no casualties, no deaths and no shootings,” Lula said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached to comment on claims that China refused to join the Brazilian initiative.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.