Brazil’s president Lula to visit China in March

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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will visit China at the end of the month, Beijing’s foreign ministry said Friday.

“At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Federative Republic of Brazil will pay a state visit to China from March 26 to 31,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement.

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Lula, who led Latin America’s largest economy twice between 2003 and 2010, is giving the first signs of wanting to break Brazil’s international isolation after four years under far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

The visit will be Lula’s first to China since taking office in January.

In his inauguration speech in Congress, he announced a new role for Brazil in the world by resuming “South American integration” and the reconstruction of the “high and active dialogue with the United States, the European Community and China”.

China is Brazil’s top trade partner, with $152.6 billion in bilateral trade last year. The United States is a distant second, at $88.8 billion.

Lula has expressed a desire to resume cordial ties with China in stark contrast with Bolsonaro.

Following his inauguration, an official said the new President would seek to visit China “after March”.

China’s foreign ministry at that time confirmed an invitation to the Brazilian president, although it did not provide a date for his visit.

“China places high importance on the China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership, and welcomes President Lula’s visit to China at a time convenient for both parties,” spokeswoman Mao Ning said.

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