November 6, 2003

President Lula visits Mozambique

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva stressed in Maputo on 5 November his belief that "Brazil can greatly assist those countries that are poorer than we are". Speaking at a press conference after official talks with a Mozambican delegation headed by President Joaquim Chissano, Lula said that Brazilian expertise and technology could assist in areas ranging from sugar production, to industry, to health. He praised the role of Mozambique, and of President Chissano in particular, in peace-keeping in Africa. "Conflicts and wars do not allow people to develop their full potential", he declared.

As for the use of Brazilian generic anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV, the virus that causes the lethal disease AIDS, Lula confirmed the intention to set up a pharmaceutical plant in Mozambique producing these drugs. "What we want is that the policy we have been following in Brazil towards AIDS should be extended to other countries, particularly those that speak Portuguese", said Lula.

Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao said that the political discussions over setting up a plant to produce anti- retrovirals were over - all that was left was to determine the precise way in which it will be financed. One possibility is the reconversion of a debt of about $20 million that Mozambique owes to Brazil.

13 agreements were signed on 5 November between the two governments, on topics ranging from plant diseases and agricultural research, to support for the development of a pilot national literacy programme for Mozambique, to scientific and technological cooperation in health. The agreements also included memoranda of understanding on environmental matters, on geology and mining, and on cooperation in public administration. President Chissano declared "these protocols represent only the areas where we are determined to make a start right away. We have discovered a great willingness to cooperate in these and other areas". (Mozambique News Agency, Maputo)

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