Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received at the Presidential Palace, in Brazilian capital BrasÀlia, the minister of information of Syria, Mohsen Bilal.
The minister is in Brazil as an envoy of the president of the Arab country, Bashar Al-Assad. "He came, in the name of president Al-Assad, to congratulate president Lula for his second term in office," said the Syrian ambassador to Brasília, Ali Diab.
But talks between the two politicians went beyond that matter. According to the Press Department at the Presidential Palace, Lula spoke about his interest in the growth of trade between both countries.
Exports from Brazil to Syria totaled US$ 200.7 million last year, an increase of 21% when compared to 2005, according to figures supplied by the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade. The main products shipped in 2006 were sugar, coffee, vehicles, lubricants and soy grain.
On the other hand, however, the performance was not the same. Imports of Syrian products totaled US$ 41 million, a reduction of over 25% when compared to 2005. The main products bought by Brazil were naphtha for the petrochemical industry, cumin seeds and aniseed.
During the meeting, which included the participation of Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim, Lula also spoke about the importance of following through with the decisions taken at the Summit of South American – Arab Countries, which took place in May 2005, in Brazilian capital Brasília.
Representatives of both blocs have been meeting regularly to discuss cooperation in various areas. The next meeting of diplomats is scheduled to take place between January 29 and 31, in Cairo, the Egyptian capital.
Still according to the Press Secretariat, Lula made use of the opportunity to thank the Syrian government for their aid in the effort to remove Brazilian citizens from Lebanon during the Israeli attacks to the country in July and August last year.
He recalled his trip to Damascus in December 2003 and pointed out the size and importance of the Syrian community in Brazil, reflecting the deep ties between both countries.
After the meeting with Lula, on January 22, Mohsen Bilal had a meeting with the president of the Lower House, Aldo Rebelo. According to a spokesperson for the congressman, it was a courtesy visit.
In the evening the Syrian minister participated in a reception at the Syrian embassy. Among those present were the Marketing vice president at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Rubens Hannun, and Sami Roumieh, a director at the organization.
"This is another important Arab authority who is visiting Brazil, showing the relevance of our country to the Arab world," stated Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce president Antonio Sarkis Jr. The minister also went to São Paulo to participate in a dinner with representatives of the Syrian community.
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