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Obama to Host Brazil’s Rousseff Monday

  • Kent Klein

US President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Brazilian President Dilma Vana Rousseff, right, following their joint news conference at the Palacio do Planalto in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, March 19, 2011. "

President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff at the White House on Monday, several days before both leaders go to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas. The White House meeting will be between the leaders of the world’s largest economy and one of the fastest growing economies.

Brazil has the world’s sixth-largest economy, a large and growing middle class and an expanding leadership role in world affairs.

Analysts say a likely goal for President Rousseff, on her first official visit to Washington, is to make the most of her country’s international standing.

Another likely priority is to further strengthen Brazil’s relationship with the United States, which Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, says is already strong, healthy and diverse.

“I think what you are going to see on April 9 with President Obama and President Rousseff is going to be two leaders of the two largest democratic countries in the Western Hemisphere embracing, perhaps literally, but certainly figuratively, and looking for ways to continue to build out a common agenda," he said.

That agenda is expected to include economic issues, such as trade. A free trade agreement between the two countries has stalled, with some analysts in Washington accusing Brazil of protectionism.

President Obama’s visit to Brazil last year produced new economic and commercial agreements, which might lead to more cooperation on international issues.

Brazil is seeking U.S. support in its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Washington has backed India’s quest for a seat, but has not done so with Brazil.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama might ask Ms. Rousseff to support tougher sanctions against Iran and Syria.

Nonetheless, Eric Farnsworth says the two countries are in agreement on most issues.

“The areas of disagreement, for example, Iran’s nuclear program or some trade disputes or what have you, are always going to capture people’s attention and news reports, et cetera. But the reality is [that] the fabric of cooperation the United States has with Brazil is very deep. It is very strong. And I do not anticipate that this meeting is going to do anything except strengthen that," he said.

Energy is one of the main areas of expected cooperation between the two countries. Brazil has some of the world’s largest oil reserves, and it has made wide use of biofuels and other alternative forms of energy, an area of interest to President Obama.

Other possible agenda items include education, Brazil’s work with other Andean nations to fight the illegal drug trade and cooperation on rebuilding Haiti.

Brazil is also in the process of deciding whether to buy $30 billion worth of jet fighters from France or the United States.