With less than a month into her administration, Dilma has already proven that she's steering the country in a different direction as far as foreign policy is concerned. Today, Folha reported that Obama will travel to Brazil in March for the first time during his administration, which he confirmed during the State of the Union address. Obama's visit comes with "warmer ties" between the US and Brazil, and after several rumored but never realized trips during Lula's administration. Dilma is also slated to travel to the US in March. These are some of the issues Obama is likely to discuss with Dilma apart from trade, which will likely be the focus of bilateral talks.
Jet Fighter Deal
Lula had all but promised to move ahead with a $6 billion deal with France, including the purchase of 36 fighter jets and a technology transfer. Lula and Sarkozy deepened ties between the two countries, increasing trade and the exchange of military technology. But due to budget restraints, Dilma has decided to re-open bidding, putting Sweden's Saab and the US's Boeing back in the game. John McCain recently traveled to Brazil to dicuss the bid, vowing to ask Congress for approval for a technology transfer similar to the French offer. Lobbying for Boeing will be at the top of Obama's to do list during his visit, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. For more on the deal, here's an excellent summary.
Lula literally left this thorny issue until the last day of his administration, therefore making it Dilma's problem to deal with. Although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Italian fugitive's extradition a year earlier in December 2009, Lula had purposely put off making a decision, and now it has fallen to Dilma's administration to sort out this diplomatic saia justa. The Italian government is heavily lobbying for Battisti's return, and has threatened to go before an international court if the Brazilian government does not extradite him, gaining the support of other European countries. The Brazilian Supreme Court will reexamine the case after its summer recess, when it may make a definitive decision. In the meantime, it's an opportunity for Dilma to prove how she can deal with a complicated and delicate international case.
UPDATE: Here's an excellent summary of the case from Newsweek that just came out today.
Lula was criticized at home and abroad for his chummy relationship with Iran and his failure to broach human rights issues with Ahmadinejad. Dilma didn't waste any time to change that, criticizing Brazil's past stance on Iran at the UN and speaking out against the threatened execution of accused adulteress Sakineh Ashtiani. Iranian diplomats and leaders were immediately angered, and Western leaders were delighted. Meanwhile, Brazilian leaders were up in arms when they learned Paulo Coelho's books had been banned in Iran, though the Iranian government denies it. Obama will likely push Dilma to take an even harder stance and urge her administration to work more closely with the US and Europe to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran.
Lula made an effort to expand ties with neighboring countries and to make himself king of the South, not just in Latin America but in other developing countries. Dilma will travel to Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, and Argentina next week in her first international trip as president, where she plans to discuss trade, energy and mining, social development, and technology, and to presumably assure leaders of diplomatic continuity. In addition, she'll discuss the construction of a hydroelectric plant on the border with Argentina, scheduled to begin construction next year. But even before the trip, the Brazilian government has already taken steps to defend its neighbors. On January 11th, a British warship from the Falklands was denied entry at a Rio de Janeiro port, supposedly a deliberate rebuff of the UK's colonial presence in the contested islands near Argentina and a move of solidarity with Argentina. By currying favor with Brazil, Obama's administration is hoping to also improve relations with the rest of Latin America, since Brazil is considered the region's unofficial leader and has proved itself as an important powerbroker with other countries in the region.