BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has canceled a high-profile trip to China on medical grounds, and the March 27-31 visit will be postponed to a later date, Brazil’s press secretary said on Saturday. .
The press secretary issued a medical note stating that after a clinical evaluation, 77-year-old Lula was diagnosed with bacterial and viral tracheitis caused by influenza A, and treatment began.
“Despite the clinical improvement, the Presidency Medical Service recommends that the trip to China be postponed until the virus transmission cycle is over,” the note said.
The Brazilian government has informed the Chinese authorities of the postponement and their intention to reschedule the visit.
The trip, which was to include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, is seen as a major effort by the new leftist president to boost ties with Brazil’s largest trading partner.
Lula took office in January. He was initially scheduled to travel on Saturday, but had already postponed his departure to Sunday after being diagnosed with mild pneumonia.
He would be traveling with a large delegation that included half a dozen ministers, as well as Tories, lawmakers and 240 business leaders. More than a third of the business leaders were from the Brazilian plantation sector, which sends the lion’s share of beef, soybeans and wood pulp to China.
With the cancellation, attention is now turning to introducing a long-awaited fiscal framework in Brazil, which was initially promised by Finance Minister Fernando Haddad for March, but has been postponed by Lula until after the China trip.
Haddad, who was originally scheduled to travel with Lula, will no longer be going to China, according to his press office.
The new framework is seen as necessary to address fiscal concerns after Lula secured congressional approval for a real multibillion-dollar package that circumvents the constitutional spending cap to boost social spending and deliver on campaign promises.
(Reporting by Marcela Ayres in Brasilia; Editing by Diane Kraft and Matthew Lewis
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