Brazil's Lula says spoke to Putin on war, declined economic forum invitation

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva meets with auto industry leaders, in Brasilia

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Friday he had a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and reaffirmed his willingness to establish peace talks with both sides of the war in Ukraine.

Lula tweeted he had also thanked Putin for an invitation to attend an economic forum in Saint Petersburg, but had to decline it as he "can't visit Russia at the moment."

"I reiterated Brazil's willingness, along with India, Indonesia and China, to talk to both sides of the conflict in pursuit of peace," Lula added, after also discussing the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week.

The Kremlin confirmed the call and said Putin told Lula that Russia is open to dialogue over Ukraine.

Lula has pitched himself as a peace broker to end the war, which began when Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022.

His proposal, based on Brazil's tradition of non-intervention and neutrality, calls for a group of nations not involved in the war to engage both Russia and Ukraine in talks.

The leftist leader was expected to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Japan this month, but the meeting fell through because of scheduling.

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Steven Grattan and Marguerita Choy)