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Musharraf in Rio; sees good trade prospects

November 29, 2004


BRASILIA, Nov 28: President Pervez Musharraf reached the Brazilian capital Sunday for talks with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as he seeks to strengthen Pakistan's international ties and open new markets.

President Musharraf had arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night with his ministers of foreign affairs, trade, privatization and information as well as businessmen. They will also go to Sao Paulo to meet business leaders and to visit Embraer, Brazil's plane manufacturer.

The Pakistan leader is on his first official visit to Latin America. He will also go to Argentina on Wednesday, Mexico on December 3-4 and go on to Washington before visiting London and Paris.

Musharraf and Lula are to sign documents on cooperating on drug trafficking, food security, visa waivers and election mechanisms, according to the director of Brazil's foreign ministry Asia-Oceania section, Edmundo Fujita.

"Pakistan wants to broaden its diplomatic horizons, with Latin America and Brazil in particular," Fujita said. He said the two countries held non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council, giving them "quite a high level of agreement on positions."

"We hope for greater dialogue - with Asian countries in general and with South Asia in particular," the diplomat said. Under Lula's presidency, Brazil has encouraged alliances among developing countries.

Brazil has not yet however gained Pakistan's backing in its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. "Pakistan recognizes the need for a larger council, but with non-permanent members," Fujita said.

Diplomats said Islamabad's reticence is due to India, its traditional foe, and one of the strongest candidates to join a larger council, along with Brazil, Germany and Japan. The four countries have launched candidacies as a slate to coordinate their efforts.

Trade between Brazil and Pakistan was at $50 million in 2003. According to Fausto Godoy, the Brazilian ambassador to Pakistan, Musharraf's visit aimed to help define areas where the two countries can cooperate and start discussions.

Brazil is interested in deep-sea drilling for Pakistani oil and in Pakistan's privatizations, Godoy said. Pakistan is interested in selling high-quality textiles and in Brazilian technology to distil ethanol, given that Pakistan has sugar cane, the raw material for the fuel.

"Musharraf is coming to Brazil to show Pakistan to the world, because of world events, he needs new visibility and wants to leave the region and join the world order," Godoy said.

Talking to PTV on his arrival at the Galeao airbase at Rio de Janeiro, President Musharraf expressed the hope that Pakistan's ties with Latin American countries will receive a major boost and be further strengthened by his visit to Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

He said: "I am probably the first Pakistani leader coming here, therefore I see a very bright future in economic, commercial and trade ties between Pakistan and the Latin American countries, Brazil in particular." The President added: "I see the relations will improve because I feel that Pakistan has not been focussing on Latin America at all." -Agencies