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Media: Brazilian president denies Zelensky's request to meet

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 12, 2023 1:39 AM 2 min read
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends the Mercosur Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Dec. 7, 2023.. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
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President Volodymr Zelensky requested a meeting with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva while traveling to Argentina for the inauguration of Javier Milei, but the Brazilian leader declined to meet, the Brazilian news outlet O Globo reported Dec. 11.

Brazil remains neutral in Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine. Da Silva has not sent Ukraine military aid or joined in sanctions against Russia, but has said Ukraine has the right to self-defense.

Zelensky and da Silva last met on Sept. 20 in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Both leaders also attended the G7 summit in Hiroshima in May 2023, but the two did not meet.

According to O Globo's sources, da Silva and his delegation were attending the Mercosur summit in Rio de Janeiro at the time Zelensky's team requested the meeting. The request was reportedly made at the last minute.

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The State Department said the Kremlin worked with media companies “to undermine support for Ukraine” in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and other Latin American countries.

Sources told O Globo that the circumstances surrounding the alleged meeting request were strange. They claimed that Zelensky's plane stopped in Brasilia for refueling the evening of Dec. 9, but took off two hours later.

Brazil's Foreign Ministry reportedly sent their Euorope and North America Secretary, Maria Luiza Escorel, to meet with Zelensky instead.

Zelensky met with a number of Latin American leaders during his visit to Milei's inauguration in Buenos Aires on Dec. 10. Prior to the inauguration ceremony, Zelensky held talks with the leaders of Paraguay, Uruguay, and Ecuador.

Milei, Argentina's newly-sworn president and a far-right libertarian, has courted controversy with his radical views, but has also expressed strong support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion.  

Zelensky's visit marks his first official trip to Latin America during his tenure as president of Ukraine.

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