Published: Tue, January 01, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Pompeo to meet Netanyahu in Brazil after Syria decision

Pompeo to meet Netanyahu in Brazil after Syria decision

After meeting Bolsonaro privately, the two were joined by the Brazilian president's incoming foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo; incoming defense minister, Fernando Azevedo e Silva; incoming finance minister Paul Guedes; and Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo, who is also a Brazilian parliamentarian.

Netanyahu came for President-elect Jair Bolsonaro's inauguration January 1, but arrived several days early in Rio de Janeiro to meet with the incoming far-right leader and several other top members of the new administration.

Netanyahu said he wanted to respond to the positive overtures from Bolsonaro, a right-winger who promised during his campaign to pursue closer ties with Israel and even spoke of moving the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the United States did back in May. The move angered several Arab states, which threatened to boycott halal meat from Brazil, the world's top exporter. Bolsonaro said that "we are opening a new era in ties, and making history".

Brazil and Israel have previously had cordial but strained relations.

Netanyahu landed in Rio de Janeiro at around 11:15 am on Friday, marking the first time an Israeli prime minister visited Brazil.

In a separate tweet, Bolsonaro added, "Israel is a technological superpower and that interests us".

Bolsonaro, sometimes called the "Trump of the tropics" for a similar style to US President Donald Trump and rejection of multilateral diplomacy, emphasized the bond he wants to build with Netanyahu, a firm US ally.

"It's hard to believe that we had no such contacts before", he said. "We want to be your partners in this effort, we think our cooperation can give both our people tremendous benefits - in the economy, employment, security, agriculture, water, industry, in every domain of human endeavor". Brazil has traditionally backed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Other VIPs attending include conservative Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Hungary's far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It is a great country with great potential for Israel in economics, diplomacy and security.

Netanyahu has met frequently with Pompeo and enjoys a warm relationship with Trump, happy about his withdrawal from a denuclearization deal with Iran and his landmark shift of the USA embassy to Jerusalem.

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