Biden and Brazil's Lula meet in New York

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Joe Biden will meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Wednesday in New York as leaders of the Western Hemisphere's largest democracies seek areas of common ground despite some recent differences over the war in Ukraine and other issues. .

The two are expected to discuss work and the environment. And senior U.S. administration officials who witnessed the meeting said the two nations are launching a partnership on workers' rights.

Initial hopes that Lula would prove to be a staunch Biden ally have dimmed in recent months, as the Brazilian leader expressed opposition on some issues and at times even appeared to mock Washington.

That has included dismissing accusations of Venezuelan authoritarianism, calling for less reliance on the dollar for global trade and accusing the United States of fueling bloodshed in Ukraine by providing military aid. In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Lula criticized the US embargo and sanctions against Cuba.

"What Lula expects is not to be lectured by the United States and the White House, but to be treated as a partner with whom they will sometimes disagree, but whom they respect," said Thomas Traumann, a Brazilian political analyst. "Not an enemy, not an opponent, someone who is on your side, but not always on your side."

Biden had cold relations with Lula's predecessor. Former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, an outspoken admirer of Donald Trump, waited weeks before acknowledging Biden's 2020 election victory. More than a year passed before a bilateral meeting took place against the backdrop of Biden's concerns. United States that Bolsonaro, who had been casting doubt on Brazil's electoral system, could reject your results .

After Bolsonaro's defeat, his supporters They stormed the capital in an attempt to remove Lula from power. The circumstances bore a clear resemblance to Trump and the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Lula quickly traveled to Washington, where he and Biden bonded over challenges to democracy that both had managed to overcome.

Despite the shared experience and apparent bonhomie, the trip upset Brazilian officials, who found the newly sworn-in president's reception at the White House historically disappointing, said Traumann, who worked in the previous administration of Dilma Rousseff, the Lula's protégé.

Wednesday's meeting will be the second. Their planned labor partnership will be a vehicle to stop worker exploitation, forced and child labor, as well as discrimination in the workplace, according to US officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.

Labor is an issue dear to Lula's heart, who got his start in politics as the leader of a powerful metalworkers union.

The two are also likely to discuss environmental preservation, with Lula aiming to attract financial contributions for the Amazon rainforest, said Paulo Peres, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. Lula has been presenting himself as an environmental leader and his administration has already recorded significant progress in the Amazon.

Amazon deforestation had skyrocketed to a 15-year high under Bolsonaro, who called for rainforest development, emboldening loggers and miners to invade protected areas, while discouraging environmental authorities. Lula began rebuilding those agencies, creating eight protected areas for indigenous peoples and expelling thousands of miners from the huge Yanomami indigenous territory. Deforestation was reduced by almost half in its first eight months.

He has sought international contributions for Brazil's Amazon Fund, but the donations have been small and symbolic. In February, the United States pledged a $50 million donation to the initiative, although it has not yet been provided. Biden later announced that he would ask Congress for an additional $500 million, which has not yet been committed.

U.S. officials who spoke to reporters sought to downplay Lula's recent criticism of the U.S. embargo and sanctions on Cuba. They noted that the Biden administration has lifted travel restrictions to Cuba imposed by the previous administration and is also in the process of restarting remittances to that country.

Lula also visited Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro in May and said accusations about the country's authoritarianism come from a false narrative, despite widespread political arrests and election interference, as well as threats to journalists.

The United States is ready to ease sanctions if Venezuela meets milestones toward credible elections, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Friday. He declined to say whether Biden would address the Venezuela issue in their bilateral meeting.

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