March 20, 2019 - 14:06 AMT
Trump mulls designating Brazil as "maybe a NATO ally"

US President Donald Trump and Brazil's new far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro forged a bond over their shared brand of conservative and populist politics on Tuesday, March 19, with Trump pledging to give more US support to Brazil's global ambitions, Al Jazeera reports.

Speaking at a joint White House news conference Trump said: "As I told President Bolsonaro, I also intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally - or, maybe a NATO ally. I'll have to talk to a lot of people but maybe a NATO ally - which will greatly advance security and cooperation between our countries."

Brazil has pursued a closer relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to make buying US weapons easier and to lower barriers to military and other cooperation with the US.

At the outset of their first meeting, the two populist presidents exchanged football jerseys from their national teams, with Trump's name emblazoned on Brazil's famous yellow shirt and Bolsonaro's on the USA uniform.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain who styled his 2018 campaign on Trump's 2016 run, has declared himself an unabashed admirer of the US president and his politics and the American way of life.

Despite the friendly rhetoric, no major breakthroughs were expected from the White House meeting.

In 2018, Colombia became the only Latin American nation to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as a "global partner", which means it will not necessarily have to take part in military action.

Trump also said he supported Brazil's efforts to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a club of the world's advanced economies.

Brazil, the world's eighth-largest economy, applied in 2017 to join the OECD, which has around three dozen members including Latin American countries Mexico, Chile and Colombia.