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OFFICIAL CORRECTION-White House says it aims to strengthen ties with Brazil, but will speak out on concerns

·2 min read

(Corrects to $300,000 (1.5 million reais) not $1.5 million insecond paragraph after White House corrects)

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The Biden administration isclosely following developments in Brazil with regard to humanrights and climate, but intends to continue strengthening U.S.economic ties and trade with the South American country, WhiteHouse press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

The administration of Democratic President Joe Biden on Feb.5 had announced an additional $300,000 (1.5 million reais) infunding from the U.S. Agency for International Development tobolster Brazil's emergency COVID-19 response, Psaki told a WhiteHouse briefing.

"We are by far the largest investor in Brazil, including inmany of Brazil's most innovative and growth-focused companies,and will continue to strengthen our economic ties and increaseour large and growing trade relationship in the months ahead,"she said.

Asked about calls by human rights groups and Democrats inCongress for Washington to halt trade talks with Brazil overconcerns about human rights and climate concerns, Psaki said theBiden administration would not refrain from raising concernswhere there were differences.

"Just as is true in many of our relationships, we look foropportunities to work together on issues where there is jointnational interest, and obviously there's a significant economicrelationship, and we will not hold back on areas where wedisagree, whether it's climate or human rights, or otherwise,"she said.

The administration of former Republican President DonaldTrump had sought to boost ties with Brazil, the largest economyin Latin America, and provide a counterweight to China, whichhas become Brazil's largest trading power.

In October, Brazil and the U.S. signed three agreements toensure good business practices and stop corruption, and set atarget for doubling bilateral trade in the next five years fromaround $100 billion currently.

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives Waysand Means Committee last year blasted the Trump administrationfor cozying up to Brazil given its record on human rights andthe environment under President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro last month wrote to Biden on the day he wasinaugurated and said he hoped the two countries would pursue abroad free-trade agreement during Biden's tenure.(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Leslie Adler)