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Brazil's Lula wishes luck and success to new Argentine president

Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a press conference in Brasilia

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva extended best wishes to the newly elected government in Argentina, without making direct mention of President-elect Javier Milei, who has previously criticized Lula and labeled him an "angry communist."

"I wish good luck and success to the new government. Argentina is a great country and deserves all our respect. Brazil will always be available to work together with our Argentine brothers," he wrote on Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

Lula said that democracy is the voice of the people and "it must always be respected," congratulating the institutions and the Argentine people for the "orderly and peaceful" process.

On Tuesday, leftist Lula had said that Argentina, the country's third-largest trading partner, should choose a president who supports democracy and the Mercosur trading bloc.

Milei, a far-right economist, has cast doubt on the future trajectory of Argentina's ties with Brazil, calling Lula a "socialist with a totalitarian vocation." He has also criticized the South American common market Mercosur and said Argentina would "follow its own path."

Milei's rival, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, enjoyed warmer relations with the Lula government. He met with Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad in Brasilia earlier this year to discuss mechanisms to secure imports by Buenos Aires.

Haddad had told Reuters that he was "worried" about Milei's potential victory, given his statements about severing ties with Brazil.

Despite its severe economic crisis, Argentina remains the primary market for Brazilian manufactured goods.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Rosalba O'Brien)