Biden meets Brazil’s Lula to talk climate, democracy

© Reuters. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrives at Blair House across from the White House, where he will be staying during his visit to Washington, USA February 9, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Andrea Shaal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will hold face-to-face talks at the White House on Friday with Brazil’s left-wing President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, aimed at restarting US-Brazil relations after Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump’s ally ends. rule.

The two leaders are expected to focus on Brazilian democracy, climate change and Lula’s efforts to re-engage with the global community during a session in the late afternoon in the Oval Office.

“The two presidents will talk about how we can advance our shared commitment to promote, strengthen, and defend democracy, not only in their respective countries but in the hemisphere and the world,” an official said. Senior Biden administration officials told reporters ahead of the talks.

Relations between the hemisphere’s two largest democracies have warmed under Lula’s far-right predecessor.

Bolsonaro flew to Florida two days before his term ended on January 1, after challenging the outcome of the October 30 second-round election in which he narrowly lost to Lula. A few days later, a violent movement of Bolsonaro supporters who refused to vote stormed the presidential palace, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Brazil.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Lula called Bolsonaro a “faithful imitator” of Donald Trump and said it was unlikely he would return to power in Brazil.

When asked if he would petition Biden to extradite Bolsonaro to Brazil to face investigations for undermining democratic institutions, Lula said it was up to his country’s courts. .

Biden and Lula are not expected to agree on the war in Ukraine due to Brazil’s neutrality. Lula would like to see a negotiated peace discussion involving more neutral global players.

On CNN, Lula defended her decision not to supply German-made artillery shells to seek Western support in the defense of Ukraine. “If I send ammunition, I will go to war. I don’t want to go to war. I want peace,” he said.

Lula will visit the White House after meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders and previous Democratic lawmakers.

Brazil’s foreign ministry said supporting democracy, human rights and the environment would be at the heart of Lula’s agenda in Washington.

Brazil also wants more countries to contribute to the Amazon Foundation (NASDAQ:) initiated by Germany and Norway to support rainforest protection and sustainable development projects.

The Biden administration is considering joining a $1.3 billion fund, two US officials confirmed to Reuters.

The US contribution to the Brazilian-managed fund will underscore the re-establishment of relations between the two countries after a recent period of frosty relations.

Lula traveled to Washington with Environment Secretary Marina Silva, who is expected to meet Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry. The ministers of foreign affairs, finance and racial equality were also present in the delegation.

Brazil reinforced its commitment to protect the Amazon rainforest this week by launching enforcement action against illegal gold miners who have devastated the Yanomami indigenous reserve in northern Brazil.

Lula’s predecessor relaxed environmental protections, encouraged logging and logging in the Amazon, and allowed deforestation in the region to reach a 15-year high.

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