Brazil's president blamed "white people with blue eyes" for the world economic crisis and said it was wrong that developing countries should pay for mistakes made in richer countries, sparking accusations of racism.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has criticized the European Union and the US for tariffs on products from developing countries and has advocated a bigger say for developing countries in decisions on the world economy, pointed a finger to Western bankers.
"This crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who thought they knew everything and now show they know nothing," Lula da Silva said after a meeting with the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the country's capital of Brasilia.
Lula da Silva's comments were widely reported in the press and drew charges of racism from message boards and CNBC viewers.
When challenged about his claims, Lula said: "I only record what I see in the press. I am not acquainted with a single black banker," according the Guardian newspaper.
Brown appeared to distance himself from Lula da Silva's comments, and the UK press reported that Downing Street said the Brazilian President's remarks were meant "for domestic consumption."
After the meeting, Brown urged the G20 to back a $100 billion expansion of trade finance to reverse a fall in exports and, with his Brazilian counterpart, called for a global trade agreement.
Leading industrial and developing nations, including Brazil, will attend the G20 summit Brown hosts in London on April 2.
- Watch Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's statement above.