Trump adviser Bolton meets far-right Brazil leader Jair Bolsonaro during Rio visit

National security head 'enjoyed a wide-ranging, very productive discussion' with populist

Jon Sharman
Thursday 29 November 2018 16:54
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John Bolton praises 'like-minded' Bolsonaro

Donald Trump‘s top national security official has met with Jair Bolsonaro in what Brazil‘s president-elect called a “very productive” encounter.

National security adviser John Bolton met the far-right future leader, who is openly racist, homophobic and sexist, having previously praised him as “like-minded” and called his election a “positive sign” for Latin America.

Like Mr Trump, Mr Bolsonaro was elected after riding a wave of popular anger against traditional politicians. He has vowed to sweep out corruption, crack down on crime and align Brazil closely with the US in a shift towards conservative nationalism.

An army helicopter hovered nearby as he and Mr Bolton met in his gated, beachside community in Rio de Janeiro.

They discussed improving trade ties between their countries, as well as developments in Cuba and Israel, Mr Bolsonaro said later. The president-elect has said he wants to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, following in Mr Trump’s footsteps.

The encounter was also attended by Mr Bolsonaro’s future national security adviser, General Augusto Heleno, and future defence minister, General Fernando Azevedo, both retired Army officers, and incoming foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, an anti-globalist who believes climate change is a Marxist invention.

Mr Bolsonaro has threatened to follow the lead of his North American counterpart and pull Brazil – home to the world’s largest rainforest – out of the Paris climate agreement.

On Wednesday, he said he had 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.

It came after new figures revealed that deforestation in the Amazon had reached its highest level in a decade, with 7,900sq km of rainforest felled in just 12 months.

Mr Bolton told reporters on Tuesday in Washington that Mr Bolsonaro’s election was a “historic opportunity” for Brazil and the US 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.

At the meeting he invited Mr Bolsonaro to Washington to meet Mr Trump, he said in a tweet; the president-elect later accepted the offer.

Mr Bolton added: “Enjoyed a wide-ranging, very productive discussion with Brazil’s President-elect Bolsonaro & his national security team. We look forward to a dynamic partnership with Brazil.”

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On Tuesday, Mr Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo met Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law, at the White House. The younger Bolsonaro said afterward that the Israel embassy move was ”not a question of if, but of when”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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