United States President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton met Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday to discuss regional security issues and build on the ideological affinity between the two leaders.
Bolsonaro is an admirer of the US president and, like Trump, took the political establishment by surprise when he won office in October, riding a wave of anger against traditional politicians.
He has vowed to sweep out corruption, crack down on crime and align Brazil closely with the United States in a shift towards conservative nationalism.
A Brazilian Army helicopter hovered offshore as Bolton arrived for the one-hour visit with Bolsonaro at his beachside gated community on the south side of Rio de Janeiro. Bolsonaro said it was “very productive” in a Twitter post.
The meeting was attended by Bolsonaro’s future national security adviser General Augusto Heleno and future defense minister General Fernando Azevedo, both retired Army officers, and incoming foreign minister Ernesto Araujo, an anti-globalist who believes climate change theory is a Marxist invention.
Bolsonaro has threatened to follow Trump’s lead and pull Brazil out of the Paris climate agreement, despite having the world’s biggest rain forest in the Amazon Reuters reported.
On Wednesday, he said he pushed the government to withdraw Brazil’s offer to host the UN climate conference next year, maintaining that Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon was at stake.
Bolton told reporters on Tuesday in Washington that Bolsonaro’s election was a “historic opportunity” for Brazil and the United States to work together on security, economics and other issues.
Thursday’s meeting would prepare the ground for Trump and Bolsonaro to “get off to a running start”, he said.
Bolton is expected to seek Brazilian support to apply pressure to Venezuela’s left-wing government, which he describes as part of “the troika of tyranny” in the Americas, alongside Cuba and Nicaragua.
In another step following Trump, Bolsonaro plans to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, despite angering Arab countries that are big buyers of Brazilian meat.
After visiting Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner at the White House on Tuesday, his son Eduardo Bolsonaro told reporters the move was “not a question of if, but of when”.
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