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UPDATE 1-U.S. tells Lula it plans to quickly recognize Brazil election winner, sources say

·2 min read

(Adds State Dept comment)

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Gabriel Stargardter

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - U.S. diplomats have assured Brazil's leading presidential candidate, leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, that they will swiftly recognize the winner of next month's election, two sources told Reuters, seeking to avert any attempt to contest a legitimate result or sow chaos after the vote.

With just days to go until the first-round vote on Oct. 2, Lula is ahead in the polls against President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist who has sought to discredit Brazil's electronic voting system. Critics fear Bolsonaro may follow the example of former U.S. President Donald Trump and refuse to accept an electoral defeat.

One of the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential talks, said that in a meeting on Wednesday, Lula asked Douglas Koneff, the top U.S. diplomat in Brazil, for a quick U.S. recognition if he does win, either in the first-round vote or in an Oct. 30 runoff.

Lula was told that Washington plans to immediately recognize the results, regardless of who wins, setting an example for other nations to follow suit and minimize the chance of a contested result, the source added.

Lula foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim heard similar assurances on Thursday when he met with a group of diplomats from Latin America and the Caribbean, the other source said. A third source said many European countries are also planning for swift recognition of Brazil's election results.

In response to a request for comment, a U.S. State Department spokesperson did not mention the Lula meeting, but said in a statement that get-togethers with presidential candidates "do not imply support for a particular individual, party, or platform." The spokesperson added that the State Department "trusts in the strength of Brazil's democratic institutions."

Still scarred by the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, the administration of President Joe Biden has grown increasingly concerned with Bolsonaro's baseless allegations of electoral fraud, sending high-level delegations to Brasilia to urge him to commit to democratic norms.

Reuters reported in May that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency director last year told senior Brazilian officials that Bolsonaro should stop casting doubt on the voting system.

One of the sources said that in the meeting with Koneff, Lula thanked the United States for having expressed faith in Brazil's voting system. (Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Gabriel Stargardter Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by Brad Haynes, Alistair Bell and Leslie Adler)