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Obama: 'Enormous Progress' in US-Brazil Relationship

President Barack Obama meets Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 9, 2012.

President Barack Obama says there has been "enormous progress" in the U.S. relationship with Brazil, though more work needs to be done. The president spoke after Oval Office talks with Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, covering bilateral economic and trade relations, and global issues including the world economy.

President Rousseff's visit came a little more than a year after President Obama traveled to Brazil as part of his first extensive trip through Latin America.

The world's sixth largest economy, Brazil has extensive exploitable oil reserves and an expanding middle class. It also has an increasingly assertive leadership role in global affairs, including such organizations as the Group of 20 leading industrialized and developing economies.

Among the issues discussed were trade, investment in technology and innovation, alternative energy and joint education initiatives, including scholarships for Brazilians to attend U.S. universities.

President Obama pointed to Brazil's social progress and stronger voice in world affairs.

"Moving from dictatorship to democracy, embarking on an extraordinary growth path, lifting millions of people out of poverty, and becoming not only a leading voice in the region but also a leading voice in the world," said President Obama.

Mr. Obama called Brazil a leader in bio-fuels, and said the U.S. is a potential "large customer" for Brazil's extensive oil and gas deposits. President Rousseff called the oil and gas sector a tremendous opportunity for cooperation.

President Rousseff said the two leaders also discussed the global financial situation, including steps in Europe to stabilize the debt crisis there.

"During this meeting we also covered and mentioned our concern regarding the international crisis, which has led to instability, low growth and unemployment in several regions of the world," said President Rousseff.

Ms. Rousseff said she voiced concern to Mr. Obama about expansionary monetary policies that she said can lead to depreciation of currency values in developed countries and impaired growth in emerging nations.

White House spokesman Jay Carney could not immediately tell reporters how President Obama responded to the Brazilian leader's remarks.

A joint U.S.-Brazil statement put U.S. exports to Brazil at $63 billion in 2011. Meredith Broadbent, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says increasing U.S.-Brazil trade is part of a trend in the hemisphere.

"Trade, of course, by the private sector, and just the demographics of the region, between the big countries and the United States, is growing very fast. You see exports to Brazil growing at 25 percent a year," said Broadbent.

Brazil and the United States have had disagreements in global trade talks and over market access and tariffs. A potential free trade agreement remains stalled.

Neither leader specifically mentioned any discussion of the Iran nuclear issue or global sanctions. A joint statement said only that they reiterated "strong resolve to support international efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear security and disarmament."
President Rousseff's U.S. visit came just days before she and President Obama meet again at the sixth Summit of the Americas, which will bring 33 hemisphere leaders together in Cartagena, Colombia. Cuba will not attend.

The Brazilian leader called the problem of drug trafficking and violence a very important part of what will be discussed at the summit.