Lula eyes Vieira for return as foreign minister, sources say


FILE PHOTO: President-elect of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks as he attends a meeting at COP27 climate summit, in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is likely to name former Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira to be the country's top diplomat again, people familiar with talks told Reuters, as more of the government taking office on Jan. 1 comes into focus.

Lula plans to name most of his cabinet in one go rather than a few at a time, which explains the delay of announcements planned for this week, according to one of the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.

While Lula has not made final decisions, as he negotiates roles for a broad political coalition in his government, sources said he is still likely to pick former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad for finance minister, as Reuters reported last month.

Haddad may be flanked on the economic team by a pair of well-known economists, Andre Lara Resende and Persio Arida, who helped stabilize Brazil's currency and bring order to the economy in the 1990s.

Resende and Arida, who met with Haddad at the transition team offices in Brasilia this week, could take roles as treasury and planning secretaries, the sources said.

"Both men are interested. It is a matter of convincing them," one of the sources said.

Lula told legislators of his Workers Party on Thursday that he would appoint Jose Mucio Monteiro to head the Defense Ministry, according to a source who was at the meeting.

Monteiro served in Lula's 2003-2010 government before becoming a judge on the federal audit court. His appointment would be well received by Brazil's armed forces, Vice President Hamilton Mourao told reporters on Monday.

The return of Vieira as foreign minister, after holding the post in 2015-2016, would restore a familiar face for the country abroad as he has also served as ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, as well as Argentina.

Vieira is close to Celso Amorim, Lula's top foreign policy adviser who will have a cabinet position as minister for strategic affairs, one source said, in a further sign that the incoming president is trusting old hands for senior positions.

"The decision is very well underway," said the source, although it has not yet been finalized by Lula.

Vieira's appointment would come with the promotion of two women to top jobs in the Foreign Ministry, the source said: Maria Luiza Viotti, who until recently was chief of staff to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Maria Laura da Rocha, currently Brazil's ambassador in Serbia.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Brad Haynes and Alison Williams)

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