Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro on Monday and called out US sanctions against Venezuela as "extremely exaggerated."
Maduro, who is seen as a controversial leader internationally, met Lula on his visit to Brazil. Maduro was greeted by Lula with a hug and back-slap in the presidential palace of Brasilia.
The Venezuelan leader was invited by Lula to attend a South American leaders' summit that will be held on Tuesday to discuss the revival of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
Lula criticized the US for denying legitimacy to Maduro's socialist government, which is viewed by Washington as authoritarian for alleged human rights violations.
Lula chided the US over denial of legitimacy to Maduro's government and the "900 sanctions" Venezuela faces.
Maduro, once unwelcome in Brazil under Bolsonaro, has a friend in Lula
The two leaders have vowed to renew ties between Brazil and Venezuela which suffered under Lula's predecessor, far-right Jair Bolsonaro.
Under Bolsonaro's tenure, Brazil severed ties with the Maduro government, joining the US and some 50 other countries that recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president after the 2018 elections.
Since he took office in January, Lula has worked to revive ties with Venezuela, undoing Brazil's Bolsonaro-era foreign policy.
"Venezuela has always been an exceptional partner for Brazil. But because of the political situation and the mistakes that were made, President Maduro spent eight years without coming to Brazil," Lula said at a press conference.
Lula described Maduro's visit to Brazil as a "new moment" in Brazil-Venezuela ties and "the start of Maduro's return."
mf/wd (dpa, Reuters, AFP)