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LATIN AMERICA | 16-04-2024 13:10

Mondino warms ties with Brazil, but no Milei-Lula meet on cards

"The possibility of a presidential meeting is always present. And we hope that at some point it will happen," Argentina's Foreign Minister Diana Mondino declares after visit to Brasília.

Foreign Minister Diana Mondino was received in Brasilia with all the ceremonial rites that accompany official meetings on Monday as she looked to improve ties with Argentina’s traditional trading partner.

She first met with Brazil's vice-president, Geraldo Alckmin, who also heads the country's Industry & Trade Ministry. She then met with her counterpart, Mauro Vieira, at the Itamaraty Palace. 

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's vice-president was also present at the lunch hosted by Vieira at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry. 

At her first official press conference with Vieira, Mondino’s dialogue with journalists was heavily coloured by world conflicts.

The foreign minister was repeatedly asked by the press about Brazil's position on Iran's missile and drone attack on Israeli territory. In an official communiqué, the government avoided using the word “condemnation,” unlike Argentina’s President Javier Milei, who was quick to offer support to the Jewish state.

In reality, the Iranian attack was a response to the previous Israeli aggression, which bombed a location next to Tehran’s Embassy in Damascus, killing seven people.

At the insistence of the press, the Brazilian foreign minister explained that his government "condemns" Iran's attack.

"Brazil always condemns any act of violence and therefore calls for an understanding between the parties," he said, justifying why the communiqué carefully chose its language.

Vieira said it was "drafted in haste, when the scope of Iran's offensive" was not yet clear.

Both Mondino and Vieira went on to outline what was discussed at their bilateral meeting, with a special emphasis on the issues of integration, including energy.

Brazil is particularly interested in the supply of gas from the Vaca Muerta shale formation, based on progress in the second stage of construction of the gas pipeline that should reach the Brazilian border. This phase of the project would potentially be financed by Brazil’s BNDES development bank (Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development).

According to Mondino, "consumers are in Brazil and production is in Argentina," so there is a "good alignment of interests."

Of course, the coincidence of needs in both countries would not solely be enough to move forward quickly. "It is a very complex issue," the minister declared. 

In truth, what makes it more difficult is the potential privatisation of the formation. 

The foreign ministers were also asked by the press about a possible summit between Presidents Lula and Milei. 

"The possibility of a presidential meeting is always present. And we hope that at some point it could happen,” came the response from Mondino.

Vieira made a point of insisting on the strong relationship between the two countries, despite the different orientations of their respective governments.

"We have a strategic alliance forged over decades and it is in our common interest to maintain it,” said Brazil’s top diplomat.

It might be less 'conflictive' to bet on infrastructure works. Brazil wants to speed up the completion of a bridge between San Borja (in Rio Grande do Sul) and Santo Tomé. Mondino agreed on its importance.

 

– TIMES/PERFIL

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