Milei Proposes Encounter With Lula After Mutual Insults

(Bloomberg) -- Argentina’s President Javier Milei has extended an olive branch to Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whom he has repeatedly called a “communist,” by proposing an encounter to thaw high-level relations between the neighboring countries.

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On a trip to Brasilia and Sao Paulo this week, Foreign Minister Diana Mondino hand-delivered a letter to Lula’s team with the invitation, which does not set a date or place for the informal meeting, according to officials from both governments familiar with the text. Lula intends to wait until a meeting happens naturally, the Brazilian official added. Both requested anonymity to disclose the letter’s content.

Before taking office in December, Milei had thrown into question whether Argentina would maintain relations with its largest trading partner after calling Lula a “communist with whom he wouldn’t deal.” The Brazilian leader then decided to give Milei the cold shoulder, skipping his December inauguration and waiting for clarity on the incoming administration’s plan to deal with Brazil.

While the presidents have never met, trade relations between South America’s two largest economies have continued as usual. Much of that can be credited to the work of Mondino, who was sent to Brasilia even before Milei’s inauguration to ease tensions caused by his fiery rhetoric. Since then, she has assured Argentina not only wants to keep trade ties with Brazil, but deepen them.

Lula and Milei represent radically different economic models and have not minced words when criticizing each other. While Milei, a self-described anarcho capitalist, has pledged to privatize public companies and fire tens of thousands of state employees, Lula has sought to ramp up public spending and revitalize state companies.

Read more: Lula-Milei Clash Embodies the World’s Competing Economic Views

To be sure, Lula has expressed his willingness to overcome their differences, saying he doesn’t need to be “friends” with other presidents to work with them. The two are set to meet at the Group of 20 summit in Rio de Janeiro later this year, where Lula will be the host.

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