Brazil President Lula Postpones Trip to China on Health
(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva postponed a business trip to China because of illness, potentially setting back his plan to strengthen relations with his country’s largest trading partner.
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Lula was admitted to a hospital in the capital of Brasilia on Thursday due to flu-like symptoms, according to a statement from his press office. He was diagnosed with bacterial and viral bronchopneumonia due to influenza A, and treatment was initiated.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to the Brazilian leader on Sunday, wishing him a speedy recovery, China state television reported. Xi said he hoped Lula would visit China at the earliest convenient date, according to the report.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Sunday that China understands and respects Lula’s decision and that it would stay in communication with Brazil about Lula’s planned visit.
The Brazilian presidency’s medical service recommended the 77-year-old leader postpone the China trip until the cycle of viral transmission ends, according to the statement. Lula was scheduled to meet with Xi, but Brazil notified China of the postponement and is seeking an alternative date for the trip, it said.
Finance Minister Fernando Haddad will also no longer travel to China, the ministry said in a statement.
Read More: Brazil Pushes China for Closer Farm Ties Ahead of Lula’s Visit
Brazil’s delegation includes hundreds of agribusiness leaders and government officials, many of whom are already in China, as part of an effort by Lula to gain greater access for his country’s exports of commodities.
The trip had also been seen as an opportunity for Lula to make peace with an agriculture industry that was largely supportive of the previous president, Jair Bolsonaro.
Lula’s health has been a recurring concern. The president had laryngeal cancer in 2011 and has since been monitored by doctors, who removed potentially pre-cancerous patches from his vocal cords last year.
(Adds Xi Jinping’s comments in the third paragraph)
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