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Netanyahu arrives in Brazil's capital for Bolsonaro's inauguration

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) is in Brazil for talks with far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who is to be sworn-in in a ceremony in Brasilia on January 1, 2019
Fernando FRAZAO (AGENCIA BRASIL/AFP/File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s inauguration.

Netanyahu was due to attend the inauguration of Bolsonaro, the far-right president whose determination to break with decades of centrist rule has raised both hopes and fears.

Later on Tuesday, Netanyahu will also meet with the president of Chile, Sebastian Piñera.

Netanyahu arrived in Brazil on Friday where he met with Bolsonaro, hailing what he said was the forging of a "great alliance" with a "huge superpower" .

"This is a historic visit, the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited Brazil and we are forging a great alliance here with a huge super power of nearly a quarter billion people," said the Prime Minister in a joint statement following the meeting.

"More than partners, we will be brothers in the future, in economy, technology, all that can bring benefit to our two countries," Bolsonaro said. He also spoke of cooperation in military and agriculture matters.

On Sunday, Netanyahu championed Bolsonaro’s reported promise to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, allaying fears that the South American leader had u-turned on his post-election declaration.

JACK GUEZ (AFP/File)

"It's not a question of 'if' but of 'when'," Netanyahu had said the Brazilian president-elect had told him to members of Rio's Jewish community on Sunday during the third day of his six-day trip, according to Reuters.

The issue of the embassy has been hovering over Netanyahu's visit to Brazil, as Bolsonaro appeared to remain mum on the matter in the leaders first meeting on Friday.

Netanyahu told reporters on his outbound flight to Rio de Janeiro on Thursday that "you can be certain I will speak with him about that in our first meeting." But neither man raised the topic in their comments to media, and no questions were taken.

In July of this year, Bolsonaro appeared to have gotten cold feet after Egypt, citing “scheduling issues”, cancelled the Brazilian leaders November trip to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Following the lead of his US counterpart Donald Trump, Latin America's largest country would not only isolate the country diplomatically but also run the risk of provoking commercial retaliation from Arab states who oppose unilateral steps seen as cementing Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital

Nearly 20 percent of Brazil's $5 billion beef exports go to 17 Arab countries whilst Brazil-Israel trade currently amounts to $1.2 billion.

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