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Lula welcomes back banned Venezuelan leader Maduro

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro has visited Brazil for the first time since he was banned by former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in 2019.

Mr Maduro was received by the new president, fellow leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, ahead of a summit of Latin American leaders in Brasilia.

"What's important about Maduro coming here is that it's the beginning of Maduro's return," Lula said.

Mr Maduro talked of a "new era" in bilateral relations.

Lula said the region should tackle poverty.

A number of countries question the legitimacy of Mr Maduro, who is described by opponents as a dictator.

Greeting his guest in the Brazilian capital on Monday, Lula said his own return had come five months earlier, referring to the time when he again assumed power after beating Mr Bolsonaro in tight presidential elections.

Mr Maduro said Venezuela was open for Brazilian investors, stressing that the two countries "must be united, from now on and always".

Lula used the visit to criticise US sanctions on Venezuela saying a "constructed narrative of authoritarianism" was in place about Venezuela and that sanctions were unjustified.

President Maduro last visited Brazil in 2015. Jair Bolsonaro was ideologically opposed to the leftist Venezuelan leader and unlikely to extend an invitation.

However, in the past, Lula enjoyed warm ties with both Nicolás Maduro and his political mentor, the late Hugo Chávez.

In a sign that the relationship looks set to remain solid, Lula spoke of what he called "extremely exaggerated" US sanctions on Venezuela and said it was inexplicable that the US would "impose 900 sanctions because they don't get on".


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