Brazil's Lula meets Saudi king on historic visit

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Agence France-Presse | 17 May 2009

RIYADH (AFP) — Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva met Saudi King Abdullah on Saturday in the historic first visit by a Brazilian president to the Middle East oil giant.

The two held talks and dined together at the Saudi king's Riyadh palace, where they were to sign a number of bilateral agreements governing political, economic and cultural relations.

Lula arrived earlier on Saturday with a large delegation of Brazilian businessmen hoping to explore joint investment and trade opportunities between the two countries.

After his arrival he met with Abdurrahman al-Attiyah, secretary general of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which is seeking a free trade deal with the Latin American Mercosur trade group.

One area the Saudis are looking at is investment in agriculture in Brazil as Riyadh seeks to build up food security by purchasing or leasing farmland in other countries.

Two deals are scheduled to be signed on Sunday, one between Brazil's state oil company Petrobras and a Saudi mining firm, and another between pharmaceutical companies for the production of insulin in Saudi Arabia.

In Brasilia before the tour began, Lula's spokesman Marcelo Baumbach said Brazil's intent with Saudi Arabia was more strategic than commercial.

"Good dialogue with Saudi Arabia is a positive element for Brazil's relationship with other Arab countries, especially those in the Gulf," he said.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest market in the Middle East for Brazilian goods and the two countries have annual trade worth 5.5 billion dollars. Brazil is the largest supplier of frozen chicken to Saudi Arabia and also sells a lot of beef to the country.

Lula is on the first stop of a trip that will also take him to China and Turkey.
Original source: AFP
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