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US Seeks Biofuel Partnership With Brazil

A senior U.S. diplomat says the United States is seeking an agreement with Brazil to produce and find new markets for biofuels such as ethanol, to reduce the U.S. dependency on oil.

Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said during a visit to Sao Paulo Tuesday that biofuel can become, in many ways, the symbolic centerpiece of the new, stronger U.S.-Brazil relationship.

Burns said the United States wants to involve other Latin American countries in learning to produce these alternative fuels. He said this could lead to what he called "a global ethanol market, with ethanol as a true commodity" to lessen the power of the world's oil exporters.

The United States and Brazil are the world's biggest producers of the biofuel ethanol, which is derived from plants such as corn and sugar cane.

Last month, President Bush, in his State of the Union speech to Congress, called for a 20 percent cut in U.S. gasoline consumption over the next 10 years. He said the goal can be reached through improved fuel economy standards in cars, and increased use of alternative and renewal fuels like ethanol.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.