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Brazil's Lula Seeks To Expand Ties With Ukraine

The Brazilian president (left) meets with his Ukrainian counterpart
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva is leading a delegation in Ukraine for the second day of a two-day visit intended to increase bilateral cooperation.

As part of today's itinerary, Brazil's defense minister will visit the Yuzhmash rocket facility in the southern city of Dnipropetrovsk.

Ukraine and Brazil are expected to agree to a treaty for the extradition of convicts, the partial renouncement of visa requirements, and greater cooperation with regards to culture and education.

As the defense minister's visit to the rocket facility suggests, Brazil will also explore further cooperation with Ukraine in aerospace. Da Silva himself was to have visited the Yuzhmash rocket site, although his itinerary was changed at the last moment.

Ukrainian rockets are launched from the Alcantara space center on Brazil's north Atlantic coast.

A forum of Ukrainian and Brazilian businessmen is taking place in conjunction with the visit. This meeting takes place three months after the two countries set up a Ukrainian-Brazilian Sub-Commission on trade and investment.

Brazil's Rise

Da Silva's latest trip shows the increasing role Brazil is cultivating on the world stage.

Last week, President Da Silva made headlines when he hosted Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Brazil. Da Silva pointedly refused to criticize the Iranian nuclear program, insisting that Iran and the West engage in constructive dialogue over the issue.

Two months ago, Brazil won the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics -- the first South American country to do so.

German Rueda, a leading historian at Spain's University of Cantabria, says that such international clout is new for a Latin-American country that historically has had little overseas involvement. Next year, Brazil will take a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Da Silva's outreach comes as the moderate leftist, and former union-leader, has come to be seen as a model by some.

"Lula [Da Silva] is adroitly directing his progressive agenda in what is seen as a practical leftism that is in line with common sense," Rueda says.

"And in this way, Lula is doing very well because he is identified with a new more sensible Latin-American left with a brighter future than that of [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez. And in that sense he is winning followers, as much in America as in the rest of the world."