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Biden, Bolsonaro of Brazil meet for first time in Los Angeles

The United States and Brazil are by far the two largest countries in the Americas, home to more than half of the nearly one billion people who live from Alaska to Patagonia. Yet 17 months into President Biden’s presidency, he has still not spoken with President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.

On Thursday, that will change. The two men are scheduled to sit down at the Summit of the Americas in the most anticipated meeting of the event.

It also has the potential to be one of the most tense. Mr. Bolsonaro is a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump and a supporter of many of the policies that Mr. Biden has tried to combat. He has opened the Amazon to more logging and mining, made it easier to buy guns in Brazil, denigrated the idea of transgender rights and moved Brazil closer to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

But what is most concerning to US officials is Mr. Bolsonaro’s efforts to question the reliability of Brazil’s voting systems ahead of October’s presidential election, which polls today show he would lose by a wide margin. Mr. Bolsonaro has even questioned the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s electoral victory, mimicking Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, including as recently as this week.

“I will not discuss the sovereignty of another country. But Trump was doing really well,” he said in a local media interview Tuesday when asked about voter fraud in the 2020 US elections, which have been repeatedly debunked. “We don’t want that to happen in Brazil.”

Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters this week that no topic was off limits in the meeting. “I do anticipate that the president will discuss open, free, fair and transparent democratic elections,” he said.

According to the official White House agenda for the meeting, the two men will discuss climate change and the pandemic recovery. In Brazil, deforestation has surged in the Amazon under Mr. Bolsonaro, and Brazil’s Senate recommended charges against Mr. Bolsonaro for his handling of the pandemic. Mr. Bolsonaro has also declined to comment publicly on whether he has been vaccinated.

“He’s not going to want to impose anything about what I should do in the Amazon. He won’t,” Mr. Bolsonaro said when asked Tuesday about the topic of the Amazon coming up in Thursday’s meeting. “I think he knows me.”

On Thursday, editors of many of the world’s largest news organizations, including The New York Times, sent a letter to Mr. Bolsonaroasking him to “urgently step up and fully resource the effort to locate Dom and Bruno.”

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