U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has accepted an invitation from President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil to visit the Latin American nation "as soon as possible," reports said.
The Brazilian leader, who is currently on a four-day official visit to Italy, extended the invitation to Obama during a 15-minute telephone conversation Tuesday. Lula said the conversation went "very well," local media reported Wednesday.
The U.S. president-in-waiting acknowledged Brazil's efforts in fields such as economic growth, social programs and renewable energy.
He also expressed his pride at having been a student of Brazil's current Minister of Strategic Affairs, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, at Harvard University.
Obama praised Brazil's leadership among emerging countries, especially on issues related to the international financial crisis. Brazil's participation in discussions on the crisis is essential, and those discussions should not be restricted to the G8 group, he added.
Brazil is one of the fiercest defenders of reforms in several multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in order to include emerging countries.
At a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors last weekend in Sao Paulo, Brazilian representatives proposed that the G20 replace the G8 in the crisis talks, as it congregates both emerging and developed countries.
Lula reaffirmed his willingness to intensify commercial relations between Brazil and the United States, adding that he expected to maintain the good bilateral relations achieved during the Bush administration.