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R. Day: After 16 years, Brazilian President will be chief guest

New Delhi: Brazil President Jair Messias Bolsonaro will be the chief guest at the 71st Republic day celebrations in the national capital on January 26.

His visit symbolizes the importance India attaches to her ties with South America, and Brazil, one of the largest economies in the world.

Bolsonaro is the third Brazilian President to be the chief guest at the Republic Day event. Earlier, then Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1996) and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2004) had graced the occasion as chief guests.

In recent years, India has been trying to create strong links with countries in South America and the Pacific. However, the distance and lack of connectivity have impeded New Delhi’s plans.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Brasilia last year for the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) Summit. The last Brazilian President, Michel Temer, had visited India in 2016 to attend a BRICS Summit in Goa.

India looks to develop and upgrade business and trade relations with South American nations through good relations with Brazil. New Delhi may increase exports to Brazil and invest more in trade with South American nations.

The Latin American countries were not seen as a problem area from the Indian perspective due to which they lacked focus from India, according to Deepak Bhojwani, Former Ambassador to Columbia, Venezuela and Cuba.

“It is good that the Bolsonaro visit is getting top billing. There is lot of content in this relationships and India and Brazil had laid the ground work for a strategic partnership when Lula was in office between 2003-2010”, he added.

Bhojwani said the India-Brazil trade was pegged at between $7-10 billion. They should take this relationship seriously and expand it.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro will also call on President Ramnath Kovind and hold talks with Prime Minister Modi on Saturday, government sources said on Tuesday.

Brazil’s ambassador to India Andre Aranhacorrea do Lago said the two countries will sign 15 pacts after the talks between Modi and Bolsonaro. The two leaders are expected to develop strategic relationships with each other. Bilateral relations were elevated to a strategic partnership in 2006.

(Vinayak)

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