About the Author: William J. Burns serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
Last July, in her speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary Clinton described our commitment to building a multi-partner world rather than a multi-polar world in the 21st century. Stronger partnerships are necessary, she said, because an array of new challenges and new opportunities demand new kinds of cooperation -- especially with the emerging powers that are taking on a greater role in every region across the globe.
This week, Secretary Clinton will arrive in a country that fits the definition of "emerging power" perhaps better than any other -- Brazil.
I travelled to Brasilia, the capital, last Friday, a few days ahead of the Secretary's visit, to discuss an array of new opportunities for partnership and collaboration. As Secretary Clinton arrives this week to cement a true 21st-century partnership between the United States and Brazil, my experience left me hopeful about the tremendous potential of this growing relationship.
Brazil's extraordinary story is alone enough to give it a unique leadership role today -- a vibrant multi-racial democracy that is reducing inequality while expanding its economy, forging homegrown models for fighting hunger and HIV/AIDS, demonstrating sound stewardship of a civilian nuclear program, and doing its part in the fight against climate change. It is clear to me that Brazil has much to teach its neighbors in Latin America and other nations facing similar challenges around the world, and I was impressed to see how much it is already doing to spread those lessons. Most Americans probably don't know, for example, that Brazil has become an important force in development efforts in Africa.
In meetings with officials from Itamaraty, Brazil's foreign ministry, as well as from President Lula's office, the military, and the Defense Ministry, I saw how cooperation and partnership are coming to define our relationship with Brazil. For me, these discussions were a great example of why a strong, open relationship -- characterized by mutual respect, honesty, and a willingness to listen and sometimes disagree -- is so crucial today. We are forging joint initiatives on a range of global issues -- some of which will be unveiled during Secretary Clinton's visit this week. And we are also coordinating and consulting closely on everything from climate change and nonproliferation to recovery and rebuilding efforts in Haiti, where Brazil has long played a central leadership role in the UN stabilization mission.
If you need proof of how important this partnership is to the United States, just look at the parade of top American officials traveling to Brazil this year. In addition to Secretary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder just had a successful visit, and a number of other cabinet officials -- including Secretary Gates -- will be arriving in the coming months. In the meantime, watch Secretary Clinton's visit this week for a clear demonstration of how the U.S.-Brazil partnership can help us seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges of the 21st century.