Argentina's Milei to shun Lula for Bolsonaro in first Brazil trip

Summit on Peace in Ukraine, in Switzerland

BUENOS AIRES/SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Argentine President Javier Milei will travel this weekend to Brazil for the first time since taking office, his spokesman said on Monday, but plans to meet with the neighboring nation's former right-wing leader instead of the current president.

Outspoken libertarian Milei and leftist Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have often clashed, with the Argentine leader criticizing Lula on the campaign trail, calling him an "angry communist" and "corrupt."

Lula last week said the two leaders had not yet spoken since Milei took office late last year and that he believed Milei needed first to apologize for his words.

Milei's planned weekend visit to Brazil, Argentina's top trade partner, will come ahead of Lula's trip to Paraguay to attend a summit for regional trade bloc Mercosur.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino will travel in Milei's place to the Mercosur summit, Argentine presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni said.

Adorni said the "astronomical" ideological gap between the two South American leaders was not behind the lack of a meeting.

"We're never going to be absent due to that reason," Adorni said.

Instead, Milei will attend CPAC Brazil - from the U.S. Conservative Political Action Conference - where he will meet with former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

"I just spoke with (Milei), who confirmed his attendance," Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo, said on X.

Milei's criticisms of other leaders have gotten him into hot water recently, including a public spat with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Bolivian President Luis Arce.

Bolivia's government on Monday summoned the Argentine ambassador after Milei's office claimed an attempted coup in Bolivia was "fraudulent."

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo in Sao Paulo and Kylie Madry in Buenos Aires; Writing by Stéphanie Hamel; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Sarah Morland and Sandra Maler)