RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's new leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will sit down with President Biden on Friday afternoon, then fly right home the next day.
Officials in both administrations say don't underestimate the visit due to its brevity — the two leaders have lofty goals, including celebrating democracy and tackling climate change. And they have a lot in common after recent events in both countries.
It was just over a month ago that hundreds of supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the capital and ransacked the Congress, Supreme Court and the presidential offices.
The comparison with the attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 are often made. As well as the fact that both Trump and Bolsonaro, close allies, continue to spread false claims of electoral fraud.
Bolsonaro is currently in Florida. He came to the U.S. just before Lula's inauguration on New Year's Day. It's unclear how long he will stay away from Brazil, where he is under investigation for his role in the attacks last month. Lula is unlikely to bring up the former president's stay in the U.S.
President Biden has shown his support for Lula as he deals with Bolsonaro and extremist supporters. Immediately after the attacks of Jan. 8, Biden called Lula and invited him to the White House. He also was one of the first leaders in the world to congratulate Lula on his close electoral victory last October. Relations between Brazil and the U.S. had been strained during the last two years of Bolsonaro's far-right administration.
The visit is an important "milestone" in restarting U.S.-Brazil ties, says Thiago de Aragāo, a political risk consultant in Brasilia and Washington. A photo with Biden in the White House is what Lula is looking for at this early point in his administration says Aragão, especially when it comes to his role tackling climate change. "Biden will legitimize Lula as one of the most important opinion makers among world leaders in the environmental agenda," he said.
Lula has promised to reverse Bolsonaro's catastrophic environmental record, in which much of Brazil's deforestation enforcement was dismantled. Lula has launched a massive operation to rid the country's largest indigenous reserve of illegal miners.
Hundreds of federal agents have been sent to the Yanomami reserve in the northern Amazon to root out the illegal operations that have polluted the local rivers and land.
Biden had pledged to create a global fund for Amazon protection. Lula is expected to ask the U.S. leader to contribute to the existing Amazon Fund, which he has restarted after its demise under Bolsonaro. The $1.3 billion fund is supported mainly by Norway and Germany and provides money to deforestation prevention and sustainable development projects in the rainforest.
The two leaders don't see eye to eye on everything, especially when it comes to foreign policy. Lula backs away from condemning Russia in the current war in Ukraine. In fact, the Brazilian leader has proposed leading a so-called "Peace Club" of non-aligned states, including India, to help mediate an end to the conflict.
He also doesn't take sides in recent tensions between the U.S. and China. China is Brazil's top trading partner. It does nearly double the amount of trade with China than with its second largest partner, the United States. Lula has a trip planned to China next month.