BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman kicked off his visit to Brazil on Thursday by meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who renewed his support for Lebanon.
Sleiman and da Silva discussed bilateral ties, whereby da Silva extended support to Lebanon and its causes and noted the pivotal role played by Brazilians of Lebanese descent.
Sleiman also met on Thursday with a delegation of Brazilian politicians of Lebanese descent, which included ministers and lawmakers.
The population of Brazil identifying with either full or partial Lebanese descent is estimated at between 6 to 7 million people. This number of immigrants is larger than the population in Lebanon. Immigration of the Lebanese to Brazil started in the late 19th century. It grew further in the 20th century and was concentrated in the state of Sao Paulo, but also extended to Minas Gerais, Goias, Rio de Janeiro and other parts of Brazil.
Most Lebanese immigrants in Brazil have worked as traders, roaming the vast country to sell textiles and clothes and open new markets. Lebanese-Brazilians are well integrated into Brazilian society.
Many Brazilians of Lebanese descent have reached prominent positions in many domains, including politics.