FIFA and Brazilian officials say they have overcome their differences and will cooperate fully to ensure the 2014 World Cup is a success.
The two sides met for nearly six hours on Tuesday at the headquarters of football's governing body - the first encounter between Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and Jerome Valcke since the FIFA secretary general ignited a feud this year when he criticised Brazil for its slow pace of preparations.
FIFA announced that a member of the Brazilian government will join the local World Cup organising committee, allowing them to be more closely connected to the decisions needed for the country's preparations.
The governing body also said organisers will try to meet every six weeks in Brazil to make sure the preparations stay on track.
"There is no more dissent, no more problems, everything has been solved,'' FIFA President Sepp Blatter said through a translator.
"We are not speaking about personal problems anymore. That is solved and over.''
The meeting happened about two months after the Brazilian government said it was cutting ties with Valcke because of his comments, prompting Valcke and Blatter to formally apologise.
"This summit represented a strong signal from the Brazilian government that it is fully committed to our partnership and shared responsibility to stage the most successful FIFA World Cup ever,'' Blatter said.
"We have today laid the foundations for achieving our joint goal in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and trust.''
Rebelo said the meeting was important to bring FIFA and Brazil closer together.
"We ended the meeting with FIFA today convinced that our ties have been strengthened, that trust exists and that together we can overcome all challenges,'' he said.
"We had a very constructive and victorious meeting. The decisions taken and the discussions we had showed that there is a complete agreement between FIFA, the Brazilian government and the local organizing committee.''
Valcke said the meeting contained a "frank discussion."
"It has been a meeting which essentially allowed each of us to understand where the difficulty lies,'' the secretary general said.
"Reports were made, questions were asked.''
Rebelo reiterated that there are no significant delays in stadium construction, even though some local watchdog groups have exposed problems with the pace of preparations.
He acknowledged, however, that the committee is looking into the possibility of using military airports to help the country meet the increased demand for passengers during the World Cup. Inadequate airport infrastructure is one of the biggest challenges local authorities are facing. Rebelo said the option will only be presented to FIFA following the defense ministry's approval.
Valcke said Brazil's sports ministry's executive secretary, Luis Fernandes, was appointed as the government's representative on the local organising committee. Also joining is FIFA's Brazilian Executive Committee member, Marco Polo Del Nero.
Valcke said a status report from the committee every six to eight weeks would "allow us to pinpoint the problems and find solutions."
"We are 13 months away from the Confederations Cup and 25 months from the World Cup. We have to make sure that fans and everybody will find a perfect setting,'' he said.
Jose Maria Marin, the president of the local committee in Brazil, said the meeting was an example of "loyal,'' "frank'' and "constructive dialogue.''
There was no indication whether there were discussions about the inclusion of the northeastern cities of Recife and Salvador in the Confederations Cup next year.
FIFA inspectors visited the two cities recently and a decision is expected by June.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|