Brazil's president blasts decision by Argentine counterpart to skip trade meetings

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday derided the decision by his Argentine counterpart Javier Milei to skip a regional trade group meeting as "immense nonsense," in the latest war of words between the ideological opposites.

Radical libertarian Milei made his first visit to neighboring Brazil as president last weekend, where he took part in a conservative rally led by Brazil's former hard-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Milei, meanwhile, opted against attending meetings held on Monday in Paraguay for the South American regional trade bloc known as Mercosur.

The leftist Lula narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in late 2022, and Brazil's president has not yet met in person with Milei since he took office in December.

"It's immense nonsense for a president of a country as important as Argentina to not participate in a meeting with Mercosur," Lula told reporters after the Paraguay meetings. "It's sad for Argentina."

(Reporting by Andre Romani; Editing by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez)