Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva greets world leaders on first day in office

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By Mark Armstrong  with AP, AFP
Lula poses for a photo with Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez
Lula poses for a photo with Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez   -   Copyright  Eraldo Peres/Copyright 2023. The AP. All rights reserved

On his first day in office, Brazil's president marked his return by establishing relations with regional and world leaders.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, more commonly known as Lula, greeted Colombian president Gustavo Petro as well as President Gabriel Boric of Chile.

He also met King Felipe VI of Spain, who said he expects Brazil to play a very active international role.

Lula also found time for the president of Bolivia, Luis Arce, with whom he intends to work on bilateral cooperation on "social policies", "energy" and "fertiliser supply", a major regional concern since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

Another important meeing was with the Argentinian president, Alberto Fernandez. He's called Lula's return the end of four years of international "isolation" after the presidency of right-winger Jair Bolsonaro.

"I believe that President Lula is a regional leader and that he will give a very important boost to Latin America," said Fernandez, "his presence in Brazil is the return of Brazil to all international forums."

The Brazilian president also had a meeting with the Vice-President of China, Wang Qishan.

Lula said he'd been given a letter in which the the Chinese president Xi Jinping expressed his willingness to improve cooperation between the two countries.

Lula is a 77-year-old veteran leftist, who previously led Brazil from 2003 to 2010.

He took the oath of office before Congress, capping a remarkable political comeback for the metalworker-turned-president less than five years after he was jailed on controversial, since-quashed, corruption charges.