Blinken to Visit Brazil, Argentina for Meetings With Lula, Milei

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By Gabriel Araujo and Simon Lewis

(Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel next week to Brazil and Argentina, where he is set to meet with both countries’ leaders and attend a gathering of G20 foreign ministers, the State Department said on Friday.

Blinken will head to Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires from Feb. 20 to 23, with Brazil hosting meetings as president of the G20 grouping of the world’s largest economies.

He will meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brasilia to discuss the U.S.-Brazil partnership for workers’ rights and cooperation on the energy transition, the State Department said.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said he expected a “robust” conversation on issues of global peace and security between Blinken and Lula, who has sharply criticized U.S.-ally Israel’s war in Gaza, including in Cairo this week.

“I think it’s going to be a dynamic conversation,” Nichols told reporters in a phone briefing ahead of the trip, noting that Blinken will have just returned from conversations at the Munich Security Conference this week and recently visited the Middle East, his fifth trip there since the Oct. 7 attacks that ignited Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza.

In Rio, Blinken expects to “engage world leaders on our shared initiatives for increasing peace and stability” and address international efforts to support Haiti as the country grapples with an escalating humanitarian crisis and spikes of violence, the State Department said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also set to attend the G20 meeting, but no meeting has been scheduled between him and Blinken, amid heightened tensions over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Blinken, who last met Lavrov during a brief exchange on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in New Delhi last year, said on Friday that if reports of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death in prison were true, Russia was responsible.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Ramin Toloui, also briefing reporters, said he could not preview any bilateral meetings Blinken might have in Rio, but said the U.S. delegation would “underscore and continue to discuss the damage that the Kremlin’s war of aggression has caused.”

Blinken will then head to Buenos Aires for a meeting with Argentine President Javier Milei, a right-wing libertarian who was sworn in December pledging a “shock therapy” to stabilize the country’s embattled economy.

Blinken and Milei will discuss “sustainable economic growth, our shared commitment to human rights and democratic governance, critical minerals, and enhancing trade and investment,” the State Department said in a statement.

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo and Simon Lewis; additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Josie Kao)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters.

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