Seeking to link his Latin American tour to job growth back home, President Barack Obama said the U.S. was eager to sell its goods and services to economically booming Brazil's growing middle class. The president's economic message, however, was overshadowed by events in Libya, where a western coalition launched a risky offensive against Moammar Gadhafi.
After an early morning arrival in Brazil's capital, Obama held meetings with newly elected President Dilma Rousseff, then addressed a joint meeting of U.S. and Brazilian business leaders. He praised Brazil's economic ascent, and said American workers stood to benefit from increased ties with the world's seventh-largest economy
"As the United States looks to Brazil, we see the chance to sell more goods and services to a rapidly-growing market of around 200 million consumers," Obama said. "For us, this is a jobs strategy."
Executives from a number of American corporations, including International Paper, Cargill, Citigroup and Coca-Cola, participated in the CEO session.
Obama began his three-country, five-day tour of Latin America against the backdrop of ominous developments in earthquake-ravaged Japan, where officials struggle to prevent a meltdown at a damaged nuclear power plant, and in Libya, where a U.S. and European coalition launched a risky military operation to protect civilians from attacks by Gadhafi's force.
The White House said Obama was briefed on developments in Libya early Saturday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and national security adviser Tom Donilon.