Netanyahu departs for Brazil for inauguration of new pro-Israel president

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Netanyahu and his wife were greeted at the airport Friday by the incoming president's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, and Rio Mayor Marcelo Bezerra Crivella.

It was the first-ever visit to Brazil by an Israeli prime minister.

He is scheduled to fly to Brasilia on Tuesday and take part in the inauguration of Bolsonaro, whose right wing brand of politics signals a significant change in direction for Brazil, which from 2002 to 2016 was ruled by the left wing Worker's Party.

The person tapped to serve as agriculture minister in the Bolsonaro administration acknowledged last month that the president-elect's talk of moving the Brazilian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem had created concern among firms who export to the Arab world.

Doing so would please his evangelical Christian support base, but would run the risk of provoking commercial retaliation from Arab states, some of which are major importers of Brazilian meat.

Netanyahu made his Brazil trip despite domestic political turmoil in Israel and a spike in military volatility in neighboring Syria. "We want more people to partner with Israel, as well as with us".

Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) are pictured upon arrival at a synagogue in the Copacabana neighborhood, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 28, 2018.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left center is received by Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro at the military base Fort Copacabana
Benjamin Netanyahu Set For First Trip By Israeli PM To Brazil

Netanyahu, before boarding his flight to Brazil, expressed similar optimism about meeting Bolsonaro.

He said Brazil was interested in technological services that Israel is a world leader in, likely referring to agritech and cyber security.

Bolsonaro said before and after his election that Brazil would follow the United States lead and transfer its embassy to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu, calling his visit "historic", also spoke of "the brotherhood, the alliance" the two planned as something that "can carry us to great heights".

"It's hard to believe that we had no such contacts before", he said. Trump has urged countries to follow national interests in economic, security, foreign relations and environmental policies.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to attend Bolsonaro's New Year's Day inauguration in Brasilia and will discuss Trump's invitation to Washington, the official said.

After leaving Brazil, Pompeo is to make a brief stop in Cartagena, Colombia where he will meet Colombian President Ivan Duque to discuss regional issues, including Venezuela and counter-narcotics efforts, the department said.

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