By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira
LISBON (Reuters) – Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he does not want to “please anyone” with his views about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after he provoked criticism in the West for suggesting Kyiv was in part to blame for the war.
Speaking in Lisbon on Saturday at the start of his first visit to Europe since being elected president, Lula said his aim was to “build a way to bring both of them (Russia and Ukraine) to the table.”
“I want to find a third alternative (to solve the conflict), which is the construction of peace,” he told a news conference.
Lula has been criticised in the West for suggesting Ukraine and Russia are to blame for the conflict that began when Moscow invaded its neighbour in February 2022.
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Last week he said the United States and European allies should stop supplying arms to Ukraine saying they were prolonging the war.
“If you are not making peace, you are contributing to war,” said Lula.
The White House accused Lula of “parroting” Russian and Chinese propaganda.
Lula arrived in Portugal on Friday for a five-day visit as he strives to improve foreign ties.
Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who accompanied Lula at the news conference, said their countries’ stance on the war were different.
Portugal is a founding member of NATO and has sent military equipment to Ukraine. Rebelo de Sousa said Ukraine had the right to defend itself and “recover” its territory.
Lula’s comments about the war have angered the Ukrainian community in Portugal, where a demonstration was held outside the Brazilian embassy on Friday.
Earlier on Saturday, Lula attended a welcoming ceremony outside Lisbon’s Jerónimos Monastery. Two Ukraine supporters carrying a flag and a sign were not allowed to stand near the ceremony’s area because police officers told them they had not requested authorisation to protest.
Portugal, home to around 300,000 Brazilians, and Brazil will sign various agreements during the visit related to technology, energy transition, tourism and culture.
Brazil has said Portugal could be an “important ally” to help South America’s Mercosur bloc to negotiate a free trade deal with the European Union.
(Reporting by Catarina Demony, Miguel Pereira and Rodrigo Antunes; Editing by Mike Harrison)
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