US seeks close ties with Brazil's new leader

December 28, 2018 - 8:42 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is seeking to cement close ties with Brazil's incoming far-right leader with a visit to the country next week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo will lead the U.S. delegation to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro's inauguration on New Year's Day.

The State Department said Friday that Pompeo would discuss increasing U.S.-Brazil trade and investment, particularly in the technology, defense and agriculture sectors. It said Pompeo would also raise democracy concerns about Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as well as potential threats from China's growing presence in Latin America.

Bolsonaro has indicated he will adopt positions similar to those of President Donald Trump. Trump has urged countries to follow national interests in economic, security, foreign relations and environmental policies.

A senior State Department official said Pompeo was eager to talk with Bolsonaro about his plans for exerting Brazil's sovereignty in dealing with other nations and with international organizations.

The official, who was not authorized to preview Pompeo's trip publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pompeo would raise the broad issue of sovereignty when discussing multilateral agreements like the Paris climate accord from which Trump has said the U.S. will withdraw. Like Trump, Bolsonaro is a climate change skeptic and has suggested loosening Brazilian environmental protections to boost the country's economy.

The official added that Pompeo would welcome Bolsonaro's pledge for Brazil to join the U.S. in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also expected to attend Bolsonaro's swearing-in. The State Department said Thursday that Pompeo plans to meet with Netanyahu in Brasilia in what would be their first meeting since Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw its military presence from Syria.

After leaving Brazil, Pompeo is to make a brief stop in Cartagena, Colombia where he will meet Colombian President Ivan Duque to discuss regional issues, including Venezuela and counter-narcotics efforts, the department said.

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