(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will skip Javier Milei’s inauguration in Buenos Aires, a sign that relations between the neighboring leaders are off to a frosty start despite the Argentine’s efforts to tone down his aggressive campaign criticism.
Brazil’s government confirmed Lula’s decision to pass on the Dec. 10 inaugural ceremony in a text message Tuesday, but did not elaborate on why he would not attend. Milei sharply criticized the leftist Brazil leader during Argentina’s campaign, calling Lula a “communist” with whom he wouldn’t deal in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Incoming Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, however, attempted to soften the tone during a late November trip to Brasilia, when she extended an invite to Lula and referred to Argentina and Brazil as “brotherly countries.”
Lula will send Mondino’s counterpart, Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, to Argentina for the inauguration, Brazil’s communications secretariat said in the message. Argentina’s embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lula, a longtime ally of outgoing Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, wished Milei “good luck and success” after the election, without mentioning the president-elect by name. But he decided to put broader relations with the new administration on hold until he gained more clarity about Milei’s planned approach to Argentina’s largest trading partner in South America.
Read More: A More Moderate Milei Embraces Trading Partners He Had Shunned
Milei has since softened his rhetoric toward Brazil and other countries he criticized, while Mondino said in a November TV interview that there will be “no breaking or changing or freezing” of relations between the neighboring nations.
(Updates with comment request in fourth paragraph and additional context throughout.)
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