By Lisandra Paraguassu
BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June and take part in his first bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, after weeks of uncertainty.
Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter, that Bolsonaro had accepted an invitation to meet with Biden at the summit, which risked going forward without the leaders of Latin America’s two biggest nations.
Bolsonaro, an admirer of former U.S. President Donald Trump, was one of the last world leaders to acknowledge Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat and has not yet spoken with Biden.
Bolsonaro had planned to skip the summit, sources said, until Biden sent former Senator Christopher Dodd to Brasilia on Tuesday to bring around the right-wing populist.
So far, the presidents of Argentina and Mexico have said they will not attend the summit, in solidarity with left-wing governments in Venezuela and Cuba that were not invited.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he would reflect and probably make a final decision on Friday.
“There is indeed a concern that the event might be empty, without the leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Argentina,” said a Brazilian government official on condition of anonymity.
Relations between Brasilia and Washington remain frosty over Bolsonaro’s environmental record and his repeated criticism of Brazil’s voting system, which he calls vulnerable to fraud without providing evidence, ahead of an October presidential vote.
Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil on Thursday of his hopes for the meeting with Biden.
“It will be a bilateral meeting, in private, in which we are going to reestablish our relationship,” he said. “Governments are temporary, but countries are forever. There is interest from him (Biden) in talking to us.”