Biden to Meet with Brazil’s Lula at the White House

February 10, 2023


President Biden on Friday was set to meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the White House.

The meeting comes just over one month after 77-year-old Lula was sworn in as President, having returned to power for a third time following a 12-year hiatus. He had defeated Jair Bolsonaro in a run-off election in October.  

It also comes after hundreds of Bolsonaro backers stormed government buildings in the capital of Brasilia amid violent protests over Lula’s election defeat of Bolsonaro—conjuring uncanny memories of the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol following Biden’s defeat of former President Trump in 2020. 

“In a sense, this visit resumes bilateral relations,” Michel Arslanian Neto, the ambassador who oversees the Americas region in Brazil’s foreign ministry, told reporters Tuesday. “A relationship that has been a little bit on the back burner since Biden’s victory.”

However, U.S. officials have noted that there could be areas of disagreement—especially regarding Ukraine, about which one senior official has said Lula and Biden will have a candid discussion. 

Lula has condemned Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine. However, in an attempt to maintain neutrality, he has also in the past suggested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—and NATO—share some blame for the now-nearly year-long war. Brazil’s position regarding the war is further  complicated by its reliance on Russian fertilizer imports, crucial to Brazil’s agriculture industry.

There are, though, numerous topics on which Biden and Lula generally agree. For instance, both are progressive proponents of battling climate change. After years of deforestation under Bolsonaro, Lula has made protecting the Amazon a central priority—an effort the Biden Administration views as vital. 

Lula, like Biden, is also interested in taking on right-wing extremism. “We must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor,” Biden declared during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the Lula Administration plans to push for legislation to curb online extremism and misinformation. 

Biden and Lula are also set to discuss economic ties, including boosting Brazil’s manufacturing industry as the United States seeks to reduce its reliance on China.

Lula is hoping Brazil can receive funds from the CHIPS and Science Act that was passed by Congress last July aimed at addressing a semiconductor chip shortage in the U.S.

One awkward topic between the two Presidents centers upon Bolsonaro, who has been in Florida since December 30 while he faces investigations in Brazil for his activities as President. The situation could quickly grow complicated, should Lula’s government bring charges against Bolsonaro while he’s on U.S. territory. 

According to the White House, it was not clear whether Lula would raise the issue of Bolsonaro, but that Biden would be ready to discuss any subject that comes up.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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