Brazil and US Prepare Meeting Between Presidents Lula and Obama

Amorim and Hillary Clinton During the first official meeting in Washington of a Latin American representative with the highest ranking officer of President Barack Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Brazilian government defended political diversity in Latin America and the change of attitude of the region towards the Cuba issue.

Brazil's Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim also prepared the ground for what will be the first meeting of President Obama with a Latin American leader, Brazil's President Luiz Lula da Silva, next March, (probably on the 17th) in Washington.

"I tried to underline the significance for the United States of the political-changes moment in the region, the great diversity of changes towards Cuba," said Amorim addressing the press following the half hour dialogue with Clinton, which she had previously described as a meeting of "opportunities and possibilities"

"Brazil suggested to the new head of the US diplomacy to leave aside the "homogenous" vision of Latin America which has been the prevailing policy of the US government in the past," added Amorim. "Mrs. Hillary Clinton took note of everything I said".

The first top level meeting between a representative from Brazil which the US traditionally considers the "natural interlocutor" of the region, with the new Secretary of State was described as "very positive and friendly," and helped prepare for the coming visit of President Lula to his US counterpart Obama in March as well as the G20 summit of rich countries and emerging economies scheduled for April in London.

"United States and Brazil will coordinate their positions regarding the summit in London and repealing protectionist tendencies through a series of meetings of experts leading to G20," said Amorim.

Energy, climate change and fighting poverty are the three axles on which the bilateral relation between Brazil and United States should concentrate pointed out the Brazilian official.

Brazil and the US are responsible for 70% of the world's bio-fuels production, Brazil from sugar cane, the US from corn. Given President Obama's announced intention of promoting alternative energies and cutting oil dependency, Brazil is confident of a strong shared "green" agenda.

"The United States can count on Brazil to develop a new policy towards the region," said Amorim who described as "very positive" the reaction from Washington to the recent referendum in Venezuela, which was won by President Hugo Chavez.

He further indicated that the protectionist allegations against the US stimulus plan (because of the Buy American phrase) were not a point of concern for the two officials.

"For Brazil the priority is the confirmation of the next US Trade Representative, so we can resume multilateral trade negotiations," underlined Amorim. Once his nomination is confirmed "we will address trade issues," and the "diverse interpretations" of the US priorities.

Bilateral trade totaled US$ 53 billion in 2008 with a US$ 2.5 billion surplus for the US.

During the past six years Brazil has had a "pragmatic" and "productive dialogue" relation with the former President George W. Bush administration, but this did not prevent President Lula from openly expressing his sympathy towards the first Afro-American US president.

Furthermore Obama returned Lula's congratulations call on January 26, a privilege very few world leaders can show.

Mercopress

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