By Lisandra Paraguassu
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday complained that U.S. President Joe Biden ignored him at a G20 summit last year and suggested it was due to the 79-year-old’s age, as he confirmed he would attend their first bilateral meeting amid chilly relations.
Bolsonaro, 67, said he will attend the Summit of the Americas hosted by Biden next month in Los Angeles, despite what he called a “freeze” in Brazil-U.S. ties since the U.S. president took office in 2021.
“I met him at the G20 (Group of leading economies) and he went by as if I did not exist, but that was how he treated everyone. It might be the age, I don’t know,” Bolsonaro told reporters.
Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist and open admirer of former U.S. President Donald Trump, confirmed that he will meet with Biden on the sidelines of the summit. Bolsonaro was one of the last world leaders to acknowledge Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat and has not yet met with Biden.
“I was inclined not to appear. Given Brazil’s size, I cannot just go there for a photo op … I am not going there to smile, shake hands and pose for a photograph,” he told reporters.
Biden sent his special adviser for the Americas summit, former Senator Chris Dodd, to Brasilia on Tuesday to convince Bolsonaro not to skip the bilateral meeting.
Bolsonaro said he told Dodd about the change in the behavior of the United States towards Brazil when Biden took office.
“With Trump things were going very well. We had agreed on many things to do here in Brazil”, he said, without giving details.
Presidents of Argentina and Mexico have previously said they will not attend the summit, in solidarity with left-wing governments in Venezuela and Cuba that were not invited.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he would reflect and probably make a final decision on Friday.
Relations between Brasilia and Washington remain frosty over Bolsonaro’s environmental record and his repeated attacks on Brazil’s electoral court and voting system, which he says calls vulnerable to fraud without providing evidence.
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Steven Grattan and Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Brad Haynes, Anthony Boadle, Bill Berkrot and Aurora Ellis)