Statement by Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley

Good afternoon, everyone. It’s a pleasure to see all of you here this afternoon.  

I returned yesterday from joining President Biden in his meeting in the White House with President Lula and the Brazilian delegation last Friday, February 10th, and I made a subsequent trip on Monday this week to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, Florida, for meetings with General Laura Richardson and her team, focused on security cooperation with Brazil.  

As you have seen in the media, the two presidents and their teams had productive conversations about the importance of protecting the environment, about democracy and human rights, trade and investment, and a range of global issues. I would like to provide a few of my own observations about what this means for the bilateral relationship moving forward. 

I believe you are aware that due to tight scheduling the original one-on-one meeting between the two presidents was scheduled for 15 minutes. However, I think it was a clear sign of the chemistry between President Biden and President Lula that their meeting in the Oval Office lasted well over an hour. Both presidents have very bold visions of their policy priorities, and the one-on one meeting, in which only the two presidents and their interpreters participated, was both remarkable and an unmistakable indication of the many important issues on our bilateral agenda. 

Following the Oval Office meeting, President Biden and President Lula chaired our larger, expanded meeting in the Cabinet Room. President Biden was flanked on either side by his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and President Lula with similar counterparts. I believe you know the composition of the Brazilian contingent, and the U.S. delegation included additional high-level representation from Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, myself, Special Presidential Advisor for the Americas Chris Dodd, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols. This represents more than a quarter of the U.S. cabinet, yet another reflection of the importance and breadth of the U.S.-Brazil partnership. 

This second, expanded meeting also lasted over an hour, and President Lula discussed his priorities for bilateral cooperation: democracy and the rule of law, climate, global governance (particularly reform of the UN Security Council), racial equality, energy, trade and investment.

President Biden agreed to partner on all of those priorities and noted his intent to work with Congress and bring the full force of the U.S. government to bear in order to make a significant initial contribution to the Amazon Fund and other important initiatives aimed at addressing the climate crisis, as well as mobilizing additional resources from private sector and U.S. and international philanthropic institutions. I believe this was at least the third time that John Kerry and Minister Marina Silva have met, and we look forward to future engagements to flesh out our climate partnership. So our work to ensure robust support for our climate agenda is just beginning.  

Presidents Biden and Lula also spoke about re-starting the Joint Action Plan To Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality, or JAPER, a landmark bilateral agreement that works for racial and ethnic equality and social inclusion. This is a priority that we have already been discussing with Minister Anielle Franco, Foreign Minister Vieira and his team at Itamaraty, Minister Silvio Almeida and his team, and others, and we expect to share additional information about our next steps on JAPER in the coming weeks. 

In my own conversations with U.S. and Brazilian cabinet officials in Washington, we discussed the plans of a number of high-level U.S. officials who intend to visit Brazil in the coming two to three months, another sign of strong interest in maintaining positive momentum, and to explore further concrete opportunities for bilateral cooperation. 

While I cannot provide more details about these visits until they are officially announced, each of them will advance the policy priorities discussed in the presidents’ meetings and prepare the way for a future visit to Brazil by President Biden, an invitation he accepted from President Lula. 

 In closing, let me just say that last Friday’s meeting between Presidents Biden and Lula was one of the most consequential between a U.S. president and a Brazilian president in years, perhaps even decades. For the United States, the meeting showed the true partnership that exists between our countries, the opportunities that exist to better the lives and futures of our peoples, and the incredible potential for the United States and Brazil, working together and with other partners, to address the challenges in this region and the world. President Biden saw that in President Lula, he has a strong partner and ally, and I can tell you firsthand that the two leaders laid the foundation, at this meeting, for continued collaboration and partnership in the months and years ahead. 

Thank you and now I’d be happy to take a few questions.