Lula affirms after meeting with Biden in Washington that the United States will help Brazil to protect the Amazon | International

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The presidents of the US, Joe Biden, and Brazil, Lula da Silva, this Friday at the White House.JONATHAN ERNST (REUTERS)

US President Joe Biden received his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in Washington this Friday on his third official visit abroad since he took office on January 1. In a brief joint statement at the White House, Biden has evoked the defense of democracy and the rule of law as shared values. The assault on the Capitol in 2021 and that of the headquarters of the Government, Congress and the Supreme Court in Brasilia, just two years later, with scenes copied from the first, bring the two leaders closer, firm in their active defense of democracy against their predecessors. Lula has stressed that he wants to "replace Brazil in world geopolitics because for four years the country isolated itself, marginalized itself" with a president who "disparaged international relations", referring to Jair Bolsonaro. “That sounds familiar to me,” Biden said.

Both have met behind closed doors to discuss an agenda that has focused on climate change, in addition to the defense of democracy, the economy, global issues (with the war in Ukraine in the foreground) and regional ones, such as the relationship of the US with South America and Mercosur. After the meeting, the Brazilian president has said that he believes that the US will help protect the Amazon, although he did not specify how. “We are not specifically talking about the Amazon Fund,” he qualified, referring to the special fund to help preserve the largest tropical forest in the world that Lula's presidency has revitalized.

The two presidents have agreed on "their categorical rejection of extremism and violence in politics", but their closeness on these aforementioned issues clashes with their divergent opinions regarding the war in Ukraine, in which Lula condemns the Russian invasion but it distributes responsibilities between the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and the Ukrainian, Volodimir Zelenski, in the face of Washington's unwavering support for kyiv.

The Democrat has tried with varying success to win over the global South in supporting Ukraine, arguing that all nations have a responsibility to oppose a superpower's bloody and unprovoked invasion of a neighboring country. Lula, for his part, has rejected calls from the West to support kyiv with arms because he does not want to be indirectly involved in the conflict. In addition, he has tried to set himself up as a statesman capable of mediating between both sides, proposing the creation of a "peace club" of countries that can contribute to a negotiated solution. Lula himself has explained, in an interview with CNN, before his appointment at the White House, that the Russian invasion "was a mistake, and now we have to fix it" and that he refuses to arm kyiv: "If I send ammunition, I enter the war and what I want is to end the war”.

Sources from the Brazilian delegation confirmed in Washington that Lula would propose to his host "a negotiated debate on peace in Ukraine, which includes the participation of more neutral world actors in the conflict" such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia or Turkey, some of them they the former BRICS.

With regard to China, which Biden considers the greatest long-term threat to US interests, as demonstrated by the latest diplomatic crisis -after the downing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon and, this Friday, of a suspicious object over Alaskan waters- , is Brazil's main trading partner and Lula intends to strengthen the bilateral relationship with an official visit in March, a trip that, according to Brazilian officials quoted by The Washington Postwill have a stronger agenda than this Friday's meeting with Biden.

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The Brazilian thanked the American for his closeness at the happiest and most tense moment in recent months. Biden was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Lula on his victory and spoke with the petista after the January 8 insurrection in Brazil, to invite him to the White House. Yet it took him 505 days to call Bolsonaro, who had questioned the legitimacy of his election in November 2020. Lula's visit comes just 40 days after taking power. He has been the first face to face of both as presidents, although they have known each other since 2009, when Biden was vice president of Barack Obama.

Regarding his predecessor in the Planalto palace, Lula described him as a "faithful imitator" of Donald Trump and said that there is no possibility of him returning to the presidency. In the interview with CNN, the Brazilian president recalled that the justice system is investigating Bolsonaro for instigating the attack on democracy, although, he stressed, he had no intention of asking Biden for the extradition of the ultra-rightist, who has been in Florida since the end of December. Lula was convinced that democracy would prevail in his country, although he warned of the existence of a far-right international in the world, an "organized movement" present in countries like Spain, France, Hungary or Germany.

The former union leader took advantage of the morning before going to the White House to meet with Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, dean of the party's most leftist faction, and other Democratic congressmen such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who expressed their support for him. Lula personified the "threat to democracy from the extreme right" in the figures of Trump and Bolsonaro.

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