Brazil's Lula defends his travels

April 12, 2005 at 7:57 PM
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ACRA, Ghana, April 12 (UPI) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is defending his penchant for overseas travel, saying diplomacy is done "eye to eye."

Lula made his assertion regarding foreign politicking overseas while meeting Tuesday with Ghana President John Agyekum Kufuor. The Brazilian leader is on a five-nation tour of Africa in a quest to bolster trade relations.

Other nations on his agenda included Cameroon on Monday, followed by Ghana, then Nigeria, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.

The president's critics say he spends too much time and taxpayer money abroad. Lula -- who assumed office in January 2003 -- has significantly out-traveled his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, during his few years in office. Among his numerous trips were a previous tour of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

All of Lula's journeys have one objective in common: the creation of new economic ties that will allow Brazil to become less dependent on U.S. trade.

"We cannot keeping hoping that people will appear in Brazil to buy (our exports)," said Lula Tuesday. "We have to travel to sell. And this is what we are doing."

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