Brazil's foreign minister dispensed with diplomatic niceties ahead of important global trade talks, accusing rich countries on Saturday of adopting a strategy of deception reminiscent of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.
"Excuse me for quoting the author," Celso Amorim told reporters at the World Trade Organization, where top negotiators from over two dozen countries are expected Monday for the official start of the talks.
But Amorim said the United States, Europe and other wealthy economies have misrepresented the WTO's seven-year-old Doha round of trade talks so often that public perception has become totally warped.
The talks, launched in Qatar's capital, have failed repeatedly since their inception in 2001 with the aim of lifting millions of people worldwide out of poverty through trade expansion.
Poorer countries have demanded cuts in the farm tariffs and subsidies used by wealthy countries, saying they hinder Third World development. In exchange, rich countries have insisted on better market access in developing countries for their manufacturers and service providers.
"Goebbels used to say if you repeat a lie several times it becomes a truth," said Amorim, whose country has co-led with India a broad coalition of developing countries at the WTO talks.
He implied that rich countries were employing this tactic in describing the agricultural concessions they claim they are willing to make, while criticizing poorer countries for refusing to liberalize their industrial markets.
"I am reminded of Goebbels," he said.
Amorim arrived in Geneva on Friday, as did his counterparts from the United States, the European Union, Japan and India. Bilateral talks are scheduled through the weekend, with negotiations in a larger group expected to begin Monday.
A number of previous efforts at a breakthrough have broken up in acrimony, most notably in Cancun, Mexico, in 2003.Associated Press