U.S. President Joe Biden will talk this Friday during his meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva about the war in Ukraine, but will respect any decision he makes on the matter, said John Kirby, a White House spokesman, on Wednesday.
Any talks on Ukraine between the two leaders have raised high expectations because Lula has tried to maintain a position of neutrality and has refused to send weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces.
Lula, moreover, has advocated dialogue and in late January proposed setting up a group – comprising among others Brazil, India and China – to mediate in the conflict.
“President Lula, democratically elected by the people of Brazil, is the one who has to speak for his country and make his own decisions consistent with the strength of his own democratic institutions,” Kirby said in a press appearance.
The spokesman argued that the US respects and defends Brazil’s “sovereignty” as an independent country, just as it is helping Ukraine to defend that principle of national sovereignty in the face of Russian encroachment.
The meeting between Biden and Lula will take place on Friday in the Oval Office of the White House with several issues on the agenda, such as the defense of democracy, the environment and human rights, as advanced by both governments.
Despite their differences over Ukraine, the Biden Administration is prioritizing its relationship with Brazil, which it sees as a strategic partner in the region.
In fact, the United States was one of the first countries to recognize in October last year Lula’s electoral victory over the far-right Jair Bolsonaro and the two leaders, who already know each other from when the American was Barack Obama’s vice president (2009-2017), spoke on the phone just one day after the election results were announced.
In addition, the U.S. was one of the first to condemn the attack that thousands of Bolsonaro supporters perpetrated on January 8 against the headquarters of the Brazilian Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court.
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