Brazil’s Lula kicks off visit to European ally Portugal

LISBON (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.

During his first joint press conference with Sousa, Lula avoided feeding the controversy regarding his recent comments about Western military aid fueling Ukraine and Russia’s conflict.

“My country took the decision long ago to condemn Russia for the occupation of the space and violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, in the first days, and we have voted in the U.N. in this regard,” he said.

The Brazilian leader reiterated his proposal that a group of nations including Brazil mediate a peaceful resolution to the war.

“I never equaled both countries, because I know what an invasion is and what territorial integrity is. And all of us think Russia is wrong and we already condemned it in every UN decision”, he stated.

Although Lula backed down from his comments regarding the war he made during his trip to China last week, Brazil’s president also said Saturday that neither Ukraine nor Russia wanted to cease the conflict. This is Lula’s first trip to an 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 secure about a dozen agreements on trade and migration. The relaunch of a Portugal-Brazil summit, which was last held in 2016 when Michel Temer was Brazil’s president, was planned as the diplomatic highlight of the trip.

In an event with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, Lula announced the signings of 13 bilateral agreements, including a cooperation deal between the space agencies of Brazil and Portugal. He affirmed the importance of maintaining commercial and humanitarian relations with 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.


Carla Bridi contributed from Brasilia and Raquel Redondo from Madrid.

___ The story has been corrected to show that Lula was not president during the 2016 Brazil-Portugal summit.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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