- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

BRASILIA, Brazil — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that Brazil is a “serious” and “solid” candidate for a permanent seat in an expanded U.N. Security Council, although he stopped short of formally endorsing the country’s bid.

During his first visit as secretary to Latin America’s largest nation, Mr. Powell praised the foreign policy of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and emphasized the importance of U.S.-Brazilian ties.

“Brazil is a solid candidate for such extended membership, and it’s a serious candidate for membership in an expanded Security Council format,” Mr. Powell told the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, before flying to Brasilia, the capital.

He noted, however, that the United States will not announce its decision on which countries to support until a panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan concludes a report on reforming the organization, which is due in December.

During the recent U.N. General Assembly session, Mr. Powell had expressed support for Japan’s candidacy but had declined to name other candidates.

As a “large, non-nuclear democracy, solidly grounded, playing a responsible role in the world stage, willing to send troops to other parts of the world [and] in the hemisphere in peacekeeping efforts and playing a very responsible role in trade discussions on the world stage, I would certainly think Brazil would be a solid candidate for such expanded membership,” Mr. Powell said.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China are the permanent Security Council members. In addition to Japan and Brazil, Germany and India are the other most frequently mentioned candidates.

Brazil already is serving a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the council.

Mr. Powell praised Brazil’s efforts in leading a peacekeeping mission to Haiti after the departure of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February.

Mr. Powell canceled a stop in Haiti on his way back home today to witness some of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne, as well as the humanitarian recovery efforts.

He accused supporters of Mr. Aristide and “some criminal elements” of taking advantage of the situation by creating unrest in the impoverished Caribbean nation, which is still reeling from storms and floods that killed 1,550 people last month.

Mr. Powell, who met with Mr. Lula da Silva and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim in Brazil, said, “The United States values [Brazil] as a close partner in advancing prosperity, democracy and security not only in the hemisphere, but around the globe.”

The secretary also said that Brazil’s nuclear program, which has been a concern for the International Atomic Energy Agency, is not “that much of an issue in Brazilian-U.S. relations.”

“We know for sure that Brazil is not thinking about nuclear weapons in any sense,” Mr. Powell said.

“It’s a question of how much visibility they get in certain technical aspects of their facilities, but that’s something to be worked out,” he said. “I hope they find a solution.”

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