France-Brazil relationship in intact: Macron

If the official photographs are any indication, Emmanuel Macron recent three-day excursion to Brazil seems more akin to a romantic escapade than a formal diplomatic mission. The French president concluded his tour of the South American nation with a state visit to Brasília, prompting a wave of online amusement following the release of images depicting his seemingly intimate rapport with Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Macron, aged 46, commenced his visit on Tuesday in Belém, the city in the heart of the Amazon region slated to host the Cop30 climate conference next year, alongside a visit to the nearby Combu island. Images circulated on 78-year-old Lula’s social media platforms captured the two heads of state joyfully holding hands aboard a boat as they admired the scenic Guamá River. Another snapshot portrayed them cheerfully strolling beneath the lush canopy of the Amazon rainforest.

Internet users were quick to draw humorous parallels, likening the scenes to engagement photoshoots or scenes plucked from a romantic comedy. Some playfully envisioned a future where Macron and Lula exchanged vows amidst the Amazonian backdrop, while others whimsically speculated about a potential family Christmas card featuring the duo.

However, beyond the light-hearted banter, Macron’s visit symbolized the renewal of the Franco-Brazilian alliance, which had soured during the tenure of Lula’s far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s administration had clashed with France over concerns regarding Amazon deforestation.

During Macron and Lula’s meeting, both leaders emphasized their shared commitment to environmental preservation, unveiling a €1 billion investment program aimed at safeguarding the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and French Guiana. Additionally, they celebrated collaborative efforts in defense technology, inaugurating a diesel-powered submarine near Rio de Janeiro equipped with French technology.

Addressing reporters during a joint press conference, Macron articulated a vision of a revitalized partnership between France and Brazil, highlighting their cooperation on issues ranging from poverty alleviation to climate action and global taxation, with plans to address these topics at the upcoming G20 summit in Rio.

However, the leaders sidestepped contentious topics where their viewpoints diverged, such as the conflict in Ukraine and the future of the European Union-Mercosur trade agreement. Macron, in a speech to business leaders in São Paulo, expressed skepticism about the proposed trade deal, describing it as “very bad” from France’s perspective.

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