BUENOS AIRES   –   Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Sil­va on Tuesday started his first foreign trip since being elected with a meeting in Bue­nos Aires with Argen­tine counterpart Alber­to Fernandez.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira said before the trip that Lula was looking to “rebuild bridges” with the international com­munity after four years of his far-right prede­cessor Jair Bolsonaro’s populist leadership.

The two leftist lead­ers were to discuss strategic bilateral “gas integration” and a “common South American currency” for financial and trade flows, the Argentine presidency said in a statement. Lula, 77, arrived at the Casa Rosada presidential palace at 11:00 am, ac­companied by his wife Rosangela da Silva. He was greeted by Fer­nandez and First Lady Fabiola Yanez. Brazil is Argentina’s largest trade partner, accord­ing to official figures published last week by the INDEC national sta­tistics institute.Brazil is the top destination for Argentine exports, amounting to 14.3 per­cent and worth $12.7 billion in 2022.

Close to 20 percent of Argentina’s imports are from Brazil, worth just over $16 billion last year. “Argentina is the most important country in our diplo­matic relations.”

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