President Obama promoted his Latin American agenda Saturday as he began a five-day visit to the area, praising Brazil as a soaring economic force and brimming market for trade.
"The United States doesn't simply recognize Brazil's rise; we support it enthusiastically," Obama said from this capital.
The president, who also will travel to Chile and El Salvador, began his trip in Brazil as a sign of solidarity between the two largest democracies and economies in the Americas.
He sought to break through here with his themes of bold cooperation on energy, education and trade.
Obama's mission in Latin America is to promote the kind of economic relationships that can add jobs for the unemployed back home, while proving the United States is engaged with neighbors whose support is needed in fighting terrorism, drugs and climate woes.
Brazil stands out for its strategic and economic importance to the United States. As the world's seventh-largest economy, it is a member of an exclusive club of influential developing nations, and Obama sought to elevate its stature alongside India and China.
"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 at a meeting of corporate leaders "For us, this is a jobs strategy."
President Dilma Rousseff extended a warm welcome to Obama, citing his role as the first African-American president and hers as the first woman to become president of Brazil as evidence of nations overcoming barriers. She said that of all U.S. presidents who have visited Brazil, "You are the one that sees our country in the most vibrant moment."
Still, Rousseff made no effort to hide her frustration with the resistance Brazil has faced in becoming a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and appealed for Obama's help. She also chafed at U.S. policies that have imposed tariffs on Brazilian goods, including ethanol and cotton, and appealed for concrete action to improve the economic ties.
Obama, however, came to Brazil with none of the items Rousseff had desired. He did not endorse Brazil's bid for the Security Council, saying only that he "expressed appreciation for Brazil's aspiration."
The president is traveling with his wife, Michelle; daughters, Sasha and Malia; and mother-in-law, Marian Robinson. The Obamas later flew to Rio de Janeiro.