Brazil’s Lula begins reviving ties with Portugal

Two men in suits standing close to one another, one with his hand on the chest of the other, who is speaking to him
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, right, speaks with Brazilian President-elect Luis Inácio Lula da Silva on Friday at the Belem presidential palace in Lisbon.
(Armando Franca / Associated Press)

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met last week with the president of Portugal in an effort to rekindle ties between the two Portuguese-speaking countries after four years of cool relations.

“Portugal is a brother country and an important partner for Brazil in Europe,” Brazil’s incoming president, widely known as Lula, tweeted ahead of the talks. “We will resume our discussions in the best interests of our two countries.”

Lula and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa held talks Friday behind closed doors at the presidential palace in Lisbon, the capital.


More than 200,000 Brazilian immigrants live in Portugal, making them by far the largest foreign community. Some 80,000 were registered to vote in Brazil’s election last month that returned Lula to power.

Portugal is the second-most-popular choice for emigrating Brazilians, after the United States.

Lula takes office on Jan. 1, but he is keen to begin setting a new tone in Brazil’s foreign relations.

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He flew to Lisbon from the United Nations climate conference in Egypt, where he vowed to crack down on illegal deforestation in the Amazon and resume relationships with countries that finance forest protection efforts. That has set Lula apart from outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, whom he defeated on Oct. 30.

During Bolsonaro’s four-year term, there were no bilateral summits with Portugal’s leaders.


Lula, during his two consecutive terms between 2003 and 2010, cultivated ties with Portugal, whose officials are hoping for a return to those relations.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho says bilateral trade hasn’t grown under Bolsonaro, adding that joint renewable energy projects might offer a new way forward.

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Lula was also due to meet later Friday with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

Lula belongs to Brazil’s leftist Workers’ Party. Costa, Portugal’s government chief for the last seven years, leads the center-left Socialist Party.