WASHINGTON - Dilma Rousseff's first visit to Washington as Brazil's president was certainly cordial enough.
She had lunch at the White House on Monday with President Obama. The United States said it is opening two new consulates in Brazil in an effort to lure more free-spending Brazilian tourists. And the two countries even forged an agreement to bolster the trade of cachaca, Brazil's signature sugarcane tipple, and Tennessee whiskey.
But the friendliness belied a sense that the United States, whose once-dominant sway in Latin America is ebbing, and Brazil, the hemisphere's rising power, still do not see eye to eye on a range of important issues, from Middle East diplomacy to trade with Cuba and Brazil's ambitions of obtaining a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
In Rio De Janeiro, commentators lamented the fact that Rousseff was not received with the pomp of a White House state dinner, recognition granted to the leaders of South Korea, India and Britain.
Still, both governments emphasized the positive aspects of Rousseff's visit, which came a year after Obama visited Brazil. The level of diplomatic exchanges, sharing of classified military and defense information and overall trade is far more expansive than in some other parts of Latin America, like Venezuela and Ecuador.
Obama and Rousseff met privately for two hours, and afterward sat in chairs flanking a fireplace in the Oval Office to speak briefly with reporters. Obama effused about "the extraordinary progress that Brazil has made under President Rousseff." She echoed his calls for continued economic cooperation between the countries.
Rousseff also cited oil and gas production as "a tremendous opportunity for further cooperation." And she welcomed recent U.S. reductions in tariffs on Brazil's ethanol.
NEW YORK TIMES