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Brazil’s Lula meets Fernandez as begins first international trip

Photo: LUIS ROBAYO / AFP

January 23 | By AFP | Mauricio Rabuffetti |

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires on Monday as he began a first foreign trip since his election by meeting with Argentine counterpart Alberto Fernandez.

The two leaders are due to discuss strategic bilateral “gas integration” and a “common South American currency” for financial and trade flows, the Argentine presidency said in a statement released on Sunday night.

Lula, 77, arrived at the Casa Rosada in central Buenos Aires at 11:00 am accompanied by his wife Rosangela da Silva. He was greeted by Fernandez and First Lady Fabiola Yanez.

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Brazil is Argentina’s largest trade partner, according to official figures published last week by the INDEC national statistics institute.

Brazil is the top destination for Argentine exports, amounting to 14.3 percent and $12.7 billion in 2022.

Close to 20 percent of Argentina’s imports are from Brazil, worth just over $16 billion last year.

“Argentina is the most important country in our diplomatic relations,” Feliciano de Sa Guimaraes, academic director for the Brazilian Center for Diplomatic Relations, told AFP.

Likewise, Fernandez’s government “depends a lot on Brazil”, not least in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with whom Argentina has a $44 billion debt.

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Following the bilateral meeting with Fernandez, Lula was due to hold talks in the afternoon with Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro.

However, that meeting was canceled and Brazilian sources told AFP that Maduro had called off his trip to Argentina.

Maduro’s expected presence in Argentina had caused a stir, with civil organizations filing a complaint against the Venezuelan leader for human rights abuses, and some opposition politicians demanding he be arrested on arrival.

‘Rebuilding bridges’

On Tuesday, Lula will take part in a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit.

His far right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro suspended Brazil’s participation in CELAC, alleging the body “gave importance to non-democratic regimes such as those of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.”

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Lula is also due to meet Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Buenos Aires before heading to Montevideo on Wednesday for talks with Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou.

Brazil Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira told the Argentine Telam news agency on Saturday that Lula was looking to “rebuild bridges” with the international community after four years of Bolsonaro’s populist leadership.

“What we will do in Buenos Aires and Montevideo is speak without partners about the situation we inherited and possible paths to follow,” said Vieira.

One challenge Lula will face is a crisis within the Mercosur trade group that comprises Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over Montevideo’s decision to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement with China without the consent of its regional partners.

Lula begins his visit to Argentina just two days after sacking army commander Julio Cesar de Arruda due to a a lack of “confidence” following the storming of the seats of power in Brasilia earlier this month by Bolsonaro supporters.

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Lula has said he suspects the security forces may have been involved in the riots.

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International

140: this is the number of countries that recognize the Palestinian state

About 140 countries of the 193 countries that are part of the United Nations (UN) have recognized the Palestinian State and of them eight belong to the European Union (EU), although only Sweden and Cyprus did so after entering it.

Sweden was the last country in the European Union to recognize the Palestinian State, on October 30, 2014.

Three years earlier, on January 30, 2011, it had been done by Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004.

The recognition by Sweden in 2014 opened the debate between the EU member states and several legislative chambers approved resolutions to urge their governments to officially recognize Palestine as a state, including the British parliament, the Irish Senate, the Congress of Deputies in Spain or the French Assembly.

On December 17, 2014, the European Parliament (EP) joined the recognition of Palestine, by supporting a joint resolution of the majority political groups that won 498 votes in favor, 111 against and 88 abstentions.

The other six EU countries that have recognized the Palestinian State are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania.

They all did it days after, on November 15, 1988, the Palestinian National Council proclaimed in Algiers the establishment of the state of Palestine, while accepting UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which meant recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

Six of those countries then belonged to the Soviet bloc, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, then united in a single country, Czechoslovakia.

In the year following its proclamation, the Palestinian State was recognized by ninety countries and in 1995 the number already exceeded one hundred.

Cuba, then also a Soviet ally, and Nicaragua were the first Latin American countries to recognize Palestine as a state, in 1988. Currently, 24 Latin American countries recognize it, all except Mexico and Panama.

The last to do so was Colombia, on August 8, 2018.

The Bahamas, on May 8, was the last country to formally recognize Palestine as a State and its right to “self-determination.” Shortly before, Trinidad and Tobago (May 3), Jamaica (April 24) and Barbados (April 21) had done it.

Among those who do not recognize the Palestinian state, in addition to countries of the European Union such as Germany, France or Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia stand out.

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International

Beijing sanctions 12 other U.S. military companies for selling weapons to Taiwan

China today sanctioned twelve other US military companies and several senior managers for selling weapons to Taiwan and in response to the sanctions imposed by Washington on Chinese entities on account of the war in Ukraine, something that, according to Beijing, “violated the legitimate rights of Chinese institutions and individuals.”

Among the twelve sanctioned companies, which will freeze their assets in China, are several of the Lockheed Martin group, in addition to Javelin Joint Venture, Raytheon Missile Systems and General Dynamics Ordnance, among others, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported in a statement.

The Chinese government has reiterated on numerous occasions its opposition to the sale of weapons to Taiwan by Washington, which in turn also sanctioned on May 1 hundreds of companies, including several Chinese companies, which it pointed out for helping Russia in its war against Ukraine.

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International

The Princess of Wales still can’t resume her official agenda

The Princess of Wales, Catherine, who is currently undergoing preventive oncological treatment, will not yet be able to resume her official agenda, as indicated by Kensington Palace, her official residence.

The news was released during the presentation of a report on the foundation that it supports and with which it is about giving priority to the mental health of children under five years of age.

For his part, a spokesman for Kensington Palace told the BBC that “the princess is not expected to return to work until her medical team authorizes it.”

Last March, Prince William’s wife revealed through a video that she was undergoing preventive cancer treatment, after doctors detected her with cancer cells after an abdominal operation last January.

Since then, there has been no official statement about the state or treatment of Prince William’s wife.

Like Catherine, King Charles III undergoes oncological treatment.

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