Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met on Monday with Brazilian leftist leader Luis Inacio Lula de Silva during his first visit to Brazil since 2015, taking advantage of warmer relations ahead of a regional summit.
Brazil’s former hard-right President Jair Bolsonaro had banned Maduro from entering Brazil when he took office in 2019, a measure that Lula lifted when he returned to power this year.
Lula and Maduro met at the presidential palace and were scheduled to sign agreements in the early afternoon.
Among the issues on their agenda was a large debt Venezuela has run up with Brazil’s National Development Bank, Brazilian officials said. Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad was due to meet with Maduro and Lula, they added, and the president of state-run oil company Petrobras, Jean Paul Prates.
Maduro is one of 10 South American presidents invited by Lula to a summit discussing the launch of a regional cooperation bloc in place of the defunct UNASUR, which was created in 2008 during the previous presidency of Lula with the leftist leaders at the time of Venezuela and Argentina, Hugo Chavez and Cristina Kirchner, respectively.
The organization floundered when several South American countries elected right-wing governments, creating diplomatic fissures on the continent.
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