Published: Wed, March 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

President Trump meets with Brazil's president

President Trump meets with Brazil's president

On his first visit, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrived in Washington on Sunday to meet with his American counterpart Donald Trump to strengthen military and economic ties and to seek for a "major non-NATO ally" status upgrade. These include the crisis in Venezuela, Cuba's involvement there and the possible threat from China's rising influence on politics in South and Central America.

"I call it fake news", Trump said.

Bolsonaro succeeded a leftist who at times had a frosty relationship with the United States. He's derided negative media coverage as "fake news". Mr Trump phoned Mr Bolsonaro within hours of him being declared the victor of October's election, during which he espoused loud pro-America - and pro-Trump - views.

The two leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues during their first sit-down meeting, including expanding trade relations, increasing USA private sector investment in Brazil and resolving the political crisis in Venezuela.

The tough-talking Bolsonaro has also long expressed his admiration for Trump.

Mr Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, a Brazilian legislator accompanying him on his first bilateral overseas trip, described the CIA as "one of the most respected intelligence agencies in the world" in a tweet that was likely to raise eyebrows back home in Brazil, where the U.S. and its spy services have been regarded with suspicion in recent years. He added that they are also united "against politically correct attitudes and against fake news".

Brazilian stocks have broken records since Bolsonaro's victory in October. The two presidents are often compared for having similar policies, with Bolsonaro often referred to as "Trump of the Tropics".

Colombia became in 2018 the only Latin American nation to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as a "global partner", which means it will not necessarily have to take part in military action. That would require agreement among the more than two dozen, mostly European, allies, for whom less dramatic expansion within Europe has proved divisive.

"I think that all possibilities, all options are open", Trump said when asked about the odds of military intervention.

"I would very much like the U.S. to uphold the current immigration policy, because to a large extent we owe our democracy in the southern hemisphere to the United States", he said. Trump said for that to happen, however, he would "have to talk to a lot of people". Trump praised Brazil for recognizing Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president and supporting the United States in providing humanitarian aid to Venezuelans.

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Brazil has participated in the delivery of "humanitarian aid" to Venezuela by the USA, allowing it to be stacked on the Brazilian-Venezuelan border.

At Tuesday's news conference, the two presidents repeatedly rejected socialism, celebrating their joint efforts to oust Venezuela's left-wing leader, Nicolas Maduro. "It's a shame what's happening in Venezuela - the debt and the destruction and the hunger".

"The U.S. -Brazil relationship has always been one of potential, but yet that potential has not always been met", the senior administration official said.

"Nowadays, you have a president who is a friend of the United States who admires this handsome country", he said.

But U.S. support would not come for free, according to Guedes.

It was the Brazilian president's first trip overseas for a bilateral meeting since taking office on January 1.

The MNNA designation would ease the transfer of defence technology at a time when Brazil's aerospace industry has forged new ties with the United States, including a planned tie-up between Boeing Co and Brazilian plane maker Embraer SA on both defence and commercial aircraft. Before Bolsonaro's election, Trump railed against Brazil's trade strategy. In a joint statement, both leaders reiterated that they would stand with Guaidó, the democratically elected National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people.

The United States had a trade surplus of about $27 billion with Brazil a year ago.

Marveling at the political turnaround in January, Trump praised Bolsonaro in remarks to the American Farm Bureau Federation's convention in New Orleans.

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