Hi, Hi, Brazil

Brazil is too crucial to the US dream of a Western Hemisphere free-trade zone for Washington to hold a grudge for long. That's why President Bush held a fruitful summit on Friday with President Inácio Lula da Silva, despite Brazil's opposition to the war in Iraq.

"Lula," as he's known, was the first such "opposition" foreign leader to visit the White House since the war. That alone highlights Brazil's central role in Mr. Bush's continuing pre-Sept. 11 vision of a new US partnership with Latin America.

The low-key summit was designed to accentuate the positive. Brazil views itself as a Latin giant standing up to the US on many issues, and Mr. da Silva's leftist, trade-unionist past has the potential to irk the conservative Bush. But both sides stand to gain much if they can strike a deal on a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). And Da Silva has embraced conservative market economics as necessary to uplifting Brazil's poor. He'll need US support as he juggles the demands of global financiers against pressure for job growth.

The two men launched a number of joint initiatives, and seemed united in how to deal with Venezuela's political crisis. Out of such bonding the US and Brazil can eventually work through their differences.

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