US, Brazil hold talks on trade, Amazon protection

Washington-DC
Mike Pompeo, Ernesto Araujo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, left, walk out to deliver remarks to members of the media at the Department of State in Washington, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Brazil deepened a new era of closer cooperation Friday with their first high-level strategic dialogue in seven years.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said both countries will seek to increase binational trade that already surpasses $100 billion a year and plan to launch a $100 million investment fund for the protection of biodiversity in the Amazon region.

Pompeo also complimented the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for supporting Israel and pressing for democratic change in Venezuela.

“Together, we are seizing the opportunity to cement a future of security, prosperity and democracy for our people and for the entire hemisphere,” Pompeo said.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, on his sixth visit to the U.S. this year, said that partnering with Washington will allow Brazil to achieve goals such as economic growth, security and development in the Amazon. The level of engagement between both countries is already “without precedent,” he said.

He said that he plans to tell dignitaries attending the upcoming U.N. General Assembly that fires in the Amazon have gotten more attention this year because of the “ideology of the Brazilian government,” but the number of blazes isn’t abnormal.

“Some people say we are anti-science. It is the opposite. We are for science. We want the issues to be treated on a constructive manner,” he said.

During his three-day visit to Washington, Araujo said, he discussed a potential free trade agreement with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

“There is no specific timeline but we want it soon,” Araujo said.

The bilateral embrace represents a shift in U.S.-Brazilian relations and comes about six months after President Donald Trump hosted Bolsonaro at the White House.

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Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo

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