Obama, Lula discuss economy, energy
US President Barack Obama met Saturday with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for talks on the global financial crisis and energy issues, dpa reported.
Obama's meeting with Lula at the White House was his third with a foreign leader and first with one from Latin America, signalling the importance with which his administration views the region and its role in pulling the world economy out its downturn.
Brazil so far has been able to weather the bad economy. The two leaders discussed next month's summit of the world's 20 leading economies.
The United States is eyeing Brazil's large bio-fuel resources as the Obama administration seeks to counter US dependence on foreign oil.
Lula has declared his interest in improving US relations in the hemisphere, including with traditional Washington foes Cuba and Venezuela.
But the top priority was the Group of 20 Summit on April 2 in London, where world leaders are seeking to coordinate efforts to halt the economic contraction. Obama and Lula have endorsed taking steps to help protect some of the world's poorest countries from the economic crisis.
Obama's predecessor, George W Bush, launched an initiative to work with Latin American countries on production of bio-fuels, as oil prices reached record highs during the last two years, prompting worries of a global energy crunch.
Obama's stimulus package, approved by Congress last month, includes 15 billion dollars to develop cleaner energy technologies as part of his effort to create jobs in the United States while curbing greenhouse gas emissions and combating global warming.
Lula was expected during Saturday's meeting to seek a role as a mediator between the United States and Venezuela as relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply over the last eight years.
The United States has pressed Brazil on the issue of an 8-year-old boy, whose American father is seeking his return to the United States in a custody case that was expected to come up during the meeting. The boy has lived with his stepfather in Brazil since his mother died in 2007.
The boy's Brazilian mother took the boy, Sean Goldman, to Brazil after splitting with her ex-husband David Goldman four years ago. She refused to return, and then divorced and remarried.
A Brazilian court has granted custody to the stepfather.
Obama has been briefed on the issue, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has conveyed the US position to Brazilian officials.
The US House of Representatives this week passed a resolution unanimously calling on Brazilian authorities to return Sean to his native country.
Following his meeting with Obama, Lula is set to travel to New York, where he is to deliver a lecture Monday to US business people on opportunities for foreign private investment in Brazil.