Passport

Brazil recognizes Palestinian state

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his transformative Foreign Minister Celso Amorim are still making news in their last month in office, announcing today that Brazil would recognize the Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. Here's the (Google-translated) statement from the foreign ministry:  

The initiative is consistent with Brazil's historical willingness to contribute to the peace process between Israel and Palestine, whose direct negotiations are currently suspended, and is in line with UN resolutions demanding the end to the occupation of Palestinian territories and building an independent state within the borders of June 4, 1967.

The decision does not imply abandoning the conviction that are essential negotiations between Israel and Palestine in order to achieve that mutual concessions on the central issues of the conflict.

Brazil reaffirms its traditional position of favoring a democratic Palestinian state, geographically cohesive and economically viable, living in peace with Israel. Only a democratic Palestine, free and sovereign will meet the legitimate demands for Israeli peace with its neighbors, security on its borders and political stability in its surrounding region.

 

The statement also states that that relations between Israel and Brazil have "never been so robust" and that "ties between the two countries have strengthened over the years."

More than 100 countries currently recognize the Palestinian state, including most of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. (Here's a map from Wikipedia.) Crucially, all of the other countries in the BRIC alliance that Lula and Amorim have championed already recognize.

ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Passport

Obama in Afghanistan

President Obama has just arrived at Afghanistan's Bagram airbase for an unannounced trip during which he will meet U.S. troops and hold a meeting by videoconference with President Hamid Karzai. Obama had originally planned to travel to Kabul by helicopter to meet Karzai in person but the trip was called off because of bad weather. 

It's not clear how far in advance the trip was planned by the timing is certainly interesting with the latest releases from WikiLeaks painting a picture of Afghanistan as a society awash in corruption and Karzai as an increasingly marginalized and erratic figure, distrusted even by his own government.

Obama and his retinue will also get a chance to see how the tenor of private conversations with foreign governments changes when confidentiality is no longer guaranteed. I wonder who gets to write the cable on this one.