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Zelenskiy’s surprise G-7 stop angers critical Brazilian leader

(Bloomberg) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s unexpected presence at the G-7 summit has baffled the Brazilian delegation, which now feels under pressure to accept an invitation to meet President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva face-to-face. , according to Brazilian officials.

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Lula, who is also attending the Group of Seven summit in Japan as a guest, is still on the fence about a meeting with Zelenskiy, said the officials, who asked not to be identified while discussing private information. .

Unlike the G-7 countries, Brazil has taken a more neutral stance on the war in Ukraine, sometimes claiming that Zelenskiy, the United States and European countries shared responsibility for Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Lula has softened his stance in recent weeks, however, toning down some comments and sending a senior official to Kyiv.

During a meeting Saturday with Emmanuel Macron, the French president urged Lula to sit down with Zelenskiy, according to people familiar with the conversation. A Macron spokesman said the French leader had discussed Ukraine with Lula, but did not confirm whether such a request had been made. The Brazilian leader only said in a tweet that Ukraine was under discussion.

Zelenskiy arrived in Hiroshima on Saturday afternoon on a French government plane, a trip that had been kept secret until the day before. Some members of the Brazilian delegation said the presence of the Ukrainian leader was a “trap” to force a meeting, while others complained that they only learned of the visit when Lula was already in Japan, the authorities said. responsible.

Many members of the Brazilian delegation were concerned that Zelenskiy would appear in the summit leaders’ so-called family photo on Saturday, officials said, and felt relieved when he did not show up. Japan had earlier said there would be no press availability for Zelenskiy.

Lula’s press office rejected repeated requests to confirm whether the Brazilian leader would meet Zelenskiy. Brazilian officials said it was still possible that a meeting between the leaders could take place on Sunday, the final day of the summit.

Last month, Lula traveled to China to discuss President Xi Jinping’s ceasefire proposal, which would effectively freeze Russian troops there. Zelenskiy rejected any framework that does not involve the full withdrawal of Russian forces, a position also repeated by G-7 leaders at the summit in Japan.

While in Beijing, Lula called on BRICS countries – including Russia, India, China and South Africa – to come up with an alternative to the dollar in foreign trade. And he accused the United States of helping to inflame the war in Ukraine.

“It’s important that the United States stop encouraging war and start talking about peace,” Lula told reporters last month during his trip to China. A few days later, he then hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Brazil.

A senior official from a European G-7 country said earlier that Zelenskiy’s presence provided an excellent opportunity to speak face-to-face with leaders like Lula and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met with the Ukrainian president. for the first time on Saturday. India has been a major buyer of Russian oil and arms, providing hard currency to Putin’s government at a time when the G-7 seeks to starve it of funds.

–With the help of Alberto Nardelli and Isabel Reynolds.

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