Brazil interested in Russian air defenses: Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday that Brasilia was keen on obtaining air defenses from Moscow and cooperating on nuclear energy.

Putin’s visit is part of an ambitious Latin American tour that has already taken him to Cuba and Argentina as he seeks to shore up support for his policies amid a showdown with the West over Ukraine.

The two leaders signed military, economic, technology and health agreements.

“We emphasized the importance of cooperation in defense and in the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Rousseff told reporters while standing alongside Putin after their meeting at the Planalto presidential palace.

According to the military agreement signed by the pair, their respective armies will participate in a joint exercise next month to operate the Pantsir-S1 short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system, which Brazil hopes to purchase soon.

“Our countries are among the largest in the world, and we cannot be satisfied with being dependent in the middle of the 21st century,” Rousseff said.

“It is essential that we seek scientific and technological autonomy.”

Putin hailed Brazil as Russia’s “greatest partner” in Latin America, saying they were united on “key international issues.”

Both are aiming to “increase their industrial potential, particularly as concerns technology” as part of joint initiatives, he added.

Putin said the two planned to build equipment together for power plants, train terminals, planes and buses.

Brazil is also aiming for more Russian investment in energy and infrastructure in the hopes of doubling trade ties.

One of the signed commercial deals is targeted at raising trade between the two countries to $10 billion, up from $5.6 billion last year.

“This will help develop initiatives to increase direct investment on both sides,” Rousseff said.

“I detailed for President Putin the multiple opportunities that present themselves in energy and infrastructure, sectors in which Russian companies can increase their presence in Brazil, especially for oil, port and railroad licenses.”

On Tuesday, Putin will participate in a summit of the BRICS group of emerging economies in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

He also attended the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro won by Germany over Argentina.

Russia will host the football extravaganza in 2018 and has pledged to spend billions of dollars on stadiums and infrastructure for the tournament.

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