(Bloomberg) -- The US and Brazil are discussing a possible meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at next month’s United Nations General Assembly in New York, according to three Brazilian officials, amid strains in relations.
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Biden and Lula, as the Brazilian leader is known, spoke by telephone Wednesday about their common goals on climate and other issues even as the two countries have had recent disputes over the war in Ukraine and relations with China.
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The officials who described the potential meeting did so on condition of anonymity because it had not been finalized. The US National Security Council declined to comment late Wednesday night.
Biden, according to a White House account of the call, promised to ask Congress to provide $500 million over five years for a fund to promote reforestation in the Amazon and “help mobilize up to $1 billion to support the restoration of degraded lands in Brazil and the Amazon region through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.”
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The Biden-Lula conversation occurred days after the primary victory by Javier Milei, a radical libertarian, in Argentina’s presidential election, stunned the Americas. Milei scorns Lula and other Latin American leftist leaders as socialists and in an interview with Bloomberg, described his relationship with Lula’s right-wing predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, as “excellent.”
Milei also vowed that, if elected, he would pull out of the Mercosur trade bloc with Brazil.
Although Biden trumpeted Lula’s victory over Bolsonaro last fall and hosted him at the White House in February, the Brazilian president has shown scant enthusiasm for Biden’s international campaign to arm and bolster Ukraine, remarking in July that “the world is starting to get tired.”
He also declined to criticize Moscow for its conduct in the conflict, asserting, asserting that the US and Ukraine should have been more diligent in negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And at a time when the US is trying to isolate China, Lula made a high profile trip to Beijing in April and has said he wants closer Brazilian-Chinese relations.
--With assistance from Akayla Gardner and Walter Brandimarte.
(Updates with National Security Council declining comment, in third paragraph.)
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