JERUSALEM – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday on a tour of Israel, the West Bank and Jordan that will make him the first Brazilian head of state to visit the region since 1876.
Lula arrived at the Tel Aviv airport a little after 5:30 p.m. local time (1530 GMT) and immediately traveled to Jerusalem, where on Monday he will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Tuesday, he will visit the West Bank city of Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Lula’s aim on this trip through the region is to increase the scope of bilateral relations among the Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians, as well as to position Brazil to be a mediator in the area.
“The visit will have a political part and also an economic aspect, due to the upcoming entry into force of free trade agreements between Israel and Mercosur,” Brazilian diplomatic officials said.
This is the first visit of a Brazilian head of state to the Holy Land since Emperor Dom Pedro II visited the region 125 years ago, the same diplomatic officials confirmed.