BRASILIA (Brazil), May 10: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for a new era of trade and commerce between South America and the Arab world on Tuesday at an unprecedented summit, while the Arabs insisted on securing political support for the Palestinian struggle.

Addressing the opening meeting of Latin American and Arab leaders in the futuristic Brazilian capital, among them princes and emirs in traditional robes and headgear, Mr Lula also spoke of the need for more democracy in both regions.

“This is a brave meeting with ambitious objectives. We want to take concrete steps in the fight for development and social justice,” the Brazilian president, a former factory worker who is carving out a role for his country as a voice for the developing world, said.

But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather than economic links, was dominating many agendas. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said that while he supported ‘South-South’ trade it was in the political world that true cooperation would be gained.

“We must call upon the entire international country to find a final solution (to the Palestinian issue), a solution that is definitive, so that everyone will do their best so that Israel will submit itself to international law and accept a negotiated peace,” Mr Bouteflika said to cheers from the delegates.

Mr Lula wants summit participants to identify business opportunities that will open up new relationships between poorer regions. He proposed this summit after a Middle East tour in 2003 as part of a drive by Brazil, the world’s fourth largest democracy, to establish itself as a diplomatic force.—Reuters