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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is to pay two visits to Russia this year, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday.

The visits are part of the two emerging market countries' efforts to step up cooperation in world affairs and the global economy, as well as withstand the current financial crisis. The aims were declared during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Brazil in November.

"We have two visits by the Brazilian president planned for this year," Alexei Yermakov said, speaking after a Russian-Brazilian business council, adding that Lula would attend a summit of BRIC nations - Brazil, Russia, India and China - and also pay a separate visit.

The diplomat did not say when the visits would take place. Earlier reports said a BRIC summit would be held in Russia's Yekaterinburg in the Urals in June.

In November, Russia and Brazil, which has moved to overhaul its armed forces, signed a series of agreements, including those on military technology cooperation and mutual visa-free travel for short trips.

Trade between Russia and Brazil grew to $6.7 billion last year, up 28% on 2007, and is expected to hit $10 billion "in the near future," according to figures cited at the council. The Latin American giant exports agricultural produce, foodstuffs, tobacco to Russia, which sells fertilizers, metals and machinery to Brazil.

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