News / USA

Obama in Rio de Janeiro, Second Stop in Brazil

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks during lunch with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday March 19, 2011.
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks during lunch with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday March 19, 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama is in Rio de Janeiro, the second stop in Brazil during a five-day Latin America trip also taking him to Chile and El Salvador.  

Addressing a gathering of American and Brazilian business executives in the capital, Brasilia, Mr. Obama said both countries need to work together to create jobs.

Brazil, he noted, had created the 7th largest economy in the world, with high levels of  annual growth,  growing much of the world's food and supplying much of its bio fuels.

Mr. Obama said both Brazil and the U.S. had "thrown off the yoke of colonialism" and  found strength in diversity. "You have shown that participation in the global economy can lead to widespread opportunity at home.  You have shown that the spirit of capitalism can thrive alongside the spirit of social justice.  You have shown that democracy is still the best path to social progress, because when governments are accountable to their people, their people are more likely to prosper," he said.

The president announced new U.S. - Brazilian economic, financial and trade dialogues, which he said would put engagement on the same level as U.S. relations with China and India.

Announcing a separate strategic energy dialogue, he said the U.S. is eager to help Brazil safely develop huge offshore oil and natural gas finds, while also working together on clean energy.

Welcoming Mr. Obama on Saturday,  President Dilma Rousseff - in translated remark - referred to the symbolism of the first meeting between Brazil's first female president, and the first African-American president of the United States.

"The peoples of our countries have [built] the largest democracies of the Americas.  They also dared to take at the highest level of Afro descent, and of women, demonstrating that the basis of democracy allows to overcome the largest barriers, to build societies that will be more generous and [have] more harmony," she said.

Both President Obama and President Rousseff acknowledged continuing policy differences.   Ms. Rousseff  called for more fairness and balance in trade relations, and repeated Brazil's call for reforms of the United Nations Security Council and international institutions.

President Obama is accompanied on the three-nation Latin America tour by his wife Michelle, their daughters Sasha and Malia, and other family members.  Mrs. Obama's activities throughout the trip are also focusing on the themes of inclusion and the importance of opportunity for young people.

In Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Obama will deliver formal remarks to the Brazilian people and visit a shantytown, or "favela" in the city to further his theme of the importance of social inclusion.

The Obamas also will enjoy a bit of tourism, visiting the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio before heading on to Chile, the next stop of this three-country Latin America trip.   The president visits El Salvador next week before returning to Washington.

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