Obama Meets With Brazil's Rousseff to Boost Economic Ties

Encounter is part of the leaders' ongoing dialogue regarding the nations' growing partnership, White House said.

President Barack Obama welcomed Brazil President Dilma Rousseff to the White House Monday for talks aimed at strengthening ties between the hemisphere's two largest economies.

Rousseff, who is traveling with a large delegation of cabinet ministers, was scheduled to visit the Obama this morning and have lunch with the U.S. president.

The encounter "is part of the leaders' ongoing dialogue regarding the growing partnership between the United States and Brazil across a wide range of issues," the White House said.

It added that Washington wants to "continue efforts to grow commercial, economic, education, and innovation ties between our two countries."

It comes more than a year after Obama's trip to the South American giant to try to reset relations that had been ruffled by differences with former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, particularly over Iran's nuclear program.

Although Rousseff is regarded as less ideological than Lula, her government has resisted U.S.-backed sanctions against Iran and Syria, which could be a sore point in the talks.

Another irritant is the U.S. Air Force's abrupt cancellation a month ago of a contract to buy 20 Super Tucano aircraft from Brazil's Embraer, angering the South American nation, which is in turn weighing U.S., French and Swedish offers for the sale of 36 fighter aircraft.

The visit has a strong accent on trade and business: Rousseff and Obama will engage in a meeting with business leaders from both countries, and the Brazilian president will later close a day-long binational forum at the U.S .Chamber of Commerce.

The forum was launched in the morning by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, who will sign a cooperation agreement in the afternoon at the State Department.

Clinton announced plans to open two new U.S. consulates in Brazil -- in Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre -- and said she would visit the country next week. The United States currently has consulates in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Recife.

"There is tremendous untapped potential in both of our countries. We have only begun to explore how we can work and prosper together," Clinton said.

Clinton said she and Patriota on Monday will sign a U.S.-Brazil Aviation Partnership Memorandum, designed "to promote more and safer air travel between two countries" as well as promote the aviation industries and tourism.

Obama, who is on a campaign to double U.S. exports, is especially interested in Brazil, where the United States has been shouldered aside by China as the country's biggest trade partner.

Rousseff, who arrived in Washington Sunday and held a meeting with Brazilian business leaders, will travel on Tuesday to Boston to promote a program to train Brazilians abroad, at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

During the White House meeting, Rousseff plans to remind Obama of Brazil's desire to end a "currency war," which she blames on developed countries and which has flooded Brazil with dollars that are driving up the value of the real.

Another issue that Rousseff could press is the expansion of the UN Security Council, and Brazil's push for permanent membership. Washington has so far withheld its support for Brazil but has supported a similar Indian bid.

The Brazilian president is scheduled to return home Tuesday.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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