Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has canceled his high-profile trip to China, March 27-31, for medical reasons, his press secretary said Saturday. Day visits will be rescheduled for a later date.
The press secretary issued a medical note saying that after clinical evaluation, the 77-year-old Lula was diagnosed with bacterial and viral bronchopneumonia caused by influenza A and had started treatment.
“Despite the clinical improvement, the medical department of the President of the Republic advises to postpone travel to China until the cycle of transmission of the virus is over,” the note said.
The Brazilian government has notified the Chinese authorities of the postponement of the visit and intends to reschedule the visit.
The visit, which includes a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, is seen as a major effort by the new leftist president to strengthen ties with Brazil’s largest trading partner.
Lula took office in January. He was due to travel on Saturday but has postponed his departure until Sunday after being diagnosed with mild pneumonia.
He will travel with a large delegation that includes six cabinet ministers, governors, lawmakers and 240 business leaders. More than a third of business leaders are from Brazil’s agricultural sector, which ships most of its beef, soybeans and wood pulp to China.
With the cancellation, attention now turns to the presentation of Brazil’s eagerly awaited fiscal framework, which Finance Minister Fernando Haddad initially promised in March but was postponed by Lula until after a trip to China.
Haddad, who was supposed to travel with Lula, will no longer be traveling to China, according to his press office.
The new framework is seen as crucial to addressing fiscal problems after Lula won congressional approval for a multibillion reais package to bypass constitutional spending caps to boost social spending and fulfill campaign promises.