The presidents of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and of the Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, signed several bilateral agreements dealing with technology, defense and diplomatic relations. One of the accords makes travel much easier between the two countries, eliminating the need for a visa for Brazilian citizens to visit Russia and also the other way around. Something Brazilians and Americans don't have.
Talking at the Itamaraty palace – the Foreign ministry's headquarters in Rio de Janeiro – Lula highlighted the Brazilian-Russian partnerships in the aerospace sector, with projects for the launching of rockets from the Alcântara Space Center in northern Brazil. He also talked about a joint venture to manufacture military equipment including combat helicopters.
The Brazilian president reminded that Russia is the largest importer of Brazilian meat, but he stressed that both countries need to broaden their trade beyond agricultural products. "We need to go beyond commodities, broadening and including in our exports products of better added value."
"RussiaÂ might supply equipment for the new hydroelectric plants in Brazil," Lula said, adding that the Russians might also participate in the construction of railroads and other infrastructure projects. Both leaders talked about the new relevance for the group made up by the world's most important emerging powers, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), in solving the current global financial crisis.
Medvedev emphasized that Brazil is Russia's main partner in Latin America and reiterated that trade between both countries will continue growing. This year, the bilateral trade surpassed U$ 6 billion. Medvedev said he hopes to double trade with Brazil in the next few years.
During their meeting, Medvedev and Lula agreed that the first summit of the world's largest developing nations, known as BRICs, should be held in Russia next year.
The next stop in the Russian president's short Latin America tour is Venezuela, where he will meet with President Hugo Chavez. The visit to Venezuela is the first by a Russian president.
Medvedev's trip to Venezuela comes a day after Russian warships sailed into a Venezuelan port for a series of joint military exercises. Russia and Venezuela have strengthened ties as both seek to counter U.S. influence in Latin America.
The U.S. State Department has said Washington will carefully monitor the military exercises, but it dismissed the notion that they represent a challenge to U.S. influence in the region.
In Washington Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she does not think there is any question who has the most power in the hemisphere. Chavez has said the exercises are not a provocation.
The Russian leader will end his tour of the region in Cuba. He met this past week with U.S. President George Bush at a summit of Pacific Rim countries in Lima, Peru.