US VP Biden says Brazil-US relations enter new era

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Stronger trade ties and closer cooperation in education, science and other fields should usher in a new era in U.S.- Brazil relations in 2013, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Friday.

Biden made his remarks after meeting with President Dilma Rousseff and Vice president Michel Temer on the last leg of his three-day visit to Brazil.

“The president (Obama) wanted to make a statement of the importance that the relationship with Brazil has for us,” Biden said. “That is why the first state visit of the second administration is to your president. We are pleased that your president has accepted the invitation.”

“It is a sign of the respect we have for Brazil. I hope 2013 marks the beginning of a new era in the relations between our two countries,” he added

The Oct. 23 visit will be an important diplomatic acknowledgment of Brazil’s growing influence — and also a shift back toward the middle for Brazilian foreign policy under Rousseff.

Her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, supported the Iranian government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez, both of whom Rousseff kept at arm’s length.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said U.S.-Brazil relations should “focus on areas like science, technology, innovation and education.”

Biden told reporters he had a “wide-ranging discussion” with Rousseff who he said was a “leader who is laser-focused on addressing the needs of the Brazilian people. I now understand why President Obama considers her such a great partner.”

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