Brazil’s Lula kicks off visit to European ally Portugal

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa received Lula and Brazilian first lady Rosangela da Silva in Lisbon. Portugal is home to over 250,000 Brazilians

Lula da Silva
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, his wife Fernanda Tadeu, Lula da Silva and his wife Rosangela da Silva at the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon.Armando Franca (AP)

Portugal’s president welcomed President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil on an official visit Saturday, as the Brazilian leader looks to strengthen ties with his country’s natural partner in the European Union.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa received Lula and Brazilian first lady Rosangela da Silva in an official ceremony at the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon. Portugal is home to over 250,000 Brazilians, and some were on hand to cheer the visiting president.

The trip is Lula’s first to a European country since he defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and won a third non-consecutive term in October. While in Portugal, the left-wing leader aims to aims to secure about a dozen agreements on trade and migration.

Lula annoyed leaders in the EU and the United States last weekend by stating that Ukraine and Russia had both chosen to go to war and that Western military aid was fueling the conflict. He also welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Brasilia on Monday.

Lula has proposed that a group of nations including Brazil and China mediate a peaceful resolution to the war. After his comments sparked sharp criticism from the White House, he condemned the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Lula was expected to use his four-day visit to Portugal to ease tensions. The relaunch of a Portugal-Brazil summit, which was last held in 2016, was planned as the diplomatic highlight of the trip.

The event will be the setting for the signing of 13 bilateral agreements, including a cooperation deal between the space agencies of Brazil and Portugal.

Before departing for Spain on Tuesday, Lula’s itinerary includes a prize-giving ceremony on Monday to honor renowned Brazilian musician Chico Buarque and a visit to Brazilian airline manufacturer Embraer’s factory near Lisbon.

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