Protests meet Condoleezza Rice in Brazil

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with protests as she arrived in Brazil Thursday for a visit of less than 24 hours. ( dpa )

Some 50 members of the National Student Union (UNE) shouted slogans against the invasion of Iraq and against Rice's presence in Brazil. The protesters gathered opposite the Itamaraty Palace, the seat of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, as Rice met with Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.

"One trillion dollars for war, not a cent for peace. Condoleezza Rice out of Brazil," a huge black placard read.

Protestors later went to the seat of the Brazilian Presidency, where Rice was meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said last week that Rice was to focus on cooperation on biofuels and free trade on her visit to Brazil and Chile.

During a visit by US President George W Bush last year, the two countries - who together produce over 70 per cent of the world's ethanol - launched an initiative to boost the production and use of biofuels in Latin America and Africa.

Rice's tour was scheduled before last week's diplomatic crisis between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Observers expected South American affairs, world trade talks and climate change issues to be among Rice's discussions with Brazilian officials, alongside Brazilian efforts to be awarded a permanent seat on a reformed UN Security Council.

Following her meetings in Brasilia, Rice was scheduled to visit Salvador da Bahia, the first colonial capital of Brazil and a picturesque World Heritage site. There, she was expected to meet Governor Jaques Wagner and learn about social projects in the state.

As they marched in Brasilia, protestors threw red ink to symbolize the deaths in US-backed wars and released white balloons to symbolize peace.

"We want her to return to the United States in the knowledge that, in Brazil, young people are against this policy (in Iraq)," said UNE president Lucia Stumpf.

Stumpf expressed her hope that the upcoming presidential election in the United States will generate foreign policy changes, and made it clear she hopes a Democrat will win.

In Chile, Rice is to meet with President Michelle Bachelet, to discuss strengthening the "extensive trade and economic relations we have with that country," the US State Department said.

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