Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has concluded his stay in Canada and left on a two-day official visit to Brazil. On Wednesday, he will meet in the Brazilian capital with the president and vice president of Brazil, and the speakers of the National Congress's chambers. On Thursday, Kasyanov will visit Rio de Janeiro where he will have a meeting with Brazilian business people. This is the first visit to Brazil by a Russian prime minister. Its main goal is to step up bilateral economic cooperation. Experts already now describe cooperation between the two countries as successful. According to preliminary estimates, Russian-Brazilian trade this year will reach a record high of over $1.5 billion. During the next few years, the countries plan to bring this figure to two billion dollars. Russian exports to Brazil include mostly fertilizers (66 percent), metals and alloys (25 percent) and imports from it tobacco, sugar, coffee and foodstuffs, which account for 97 percent of Brazilian exports to Russia. Russia is the largest importer of Brazilian crude sugar and one of the ten largest importers of Brazilian coffee, pork and frozen chickens. Experts say the Russian coffee market is very promising and can substantially grow. Coffee consumption in Russia grows by 10-15 percent every year, yet Russia still accounts for a mere one percent of the world's coffee consumption. Russians consume an average of 500 to 600 grams of coffee a year, whereas the average coffee consumption by a European citizen stands at eight to ten kilograms a year. According to a source in the Russian government, nuclear power engineering, communications, transport, scientific research, space exploration and aviation are priority areas in Russian-Brazilian investment cooperation. During his visit, Kasyanov may discuss the possibility of Russian participation in building a Brazilian booster rocket, and Russia's assistance in launching a Brazilian satellite. Russia's using a Brazilian space launch site may also be discussed. It is not ruled out that during Kasyanov's visit, Russia and Brazil will conclude agreements for cooperation in space exploration and tourism. Another promising area in bilateral cooperation is arms supplies. Brazil has displayed interest in Russian-built planes, helicopters, air defence systems, and police armaments. Russia is ready to discuss the possibility of supplying its equipment and armaments on a leasing or barter basis, in exchange for Brazilian meat and sugar. The two countries may also discuss joint arms production for third countries. As for joint ventures in third countries, Russia and Brazil now cooperate only in Angola, reconstructing a hydroelectric power plant and mining diamonds. This kind of cooperation is planned to be broadened, too.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.