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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rousseff May Cancel US Trip


September 17, 2013 1:51 am

Rousseff to decide if US visit will go ahead


Dilma Rousseff is expected to announce on Tuesday whether she will go ahead with a state visit to Washington next month after anger in Brazil over US spying.
The Brazilian leader spoke with US President Barack Obama by phone on Monday evening about the visit amid speculation she may cancel or postpone the trip until next year to express her dissatisfaction with Washington.

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“She told him she would have a position by tomorrow on the subject,” said a person familiar with the matter.
Revelations that the US National Security Agency monitored everything from Ms Rousseff’s personal communications with her staff to the affairs of state-owned oil company Petrobras have rocked Brazil.
Brazilian officials see the spying as an affront at a time when the two sides have been trying to raise the importance of the relationship. The state visit is to be the first by a Brazilian president in nearly two decades.
“People feel bad that the president is being spied on by a country that describes Brazil as a strategic partner,” said Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center.
The revelations were contained in stories released by Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald and Fantastico, a programme on Brazil’s dominant television network Globo TV, using material from Edward Snowden, the fugitive former NSA contractor.
“The United States understands that recent disclosures in the press – some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed – have created tensions in the very strong bilateral relationship we have with Brazil,” the White House said last week.
Ms Rousseff has reportedly come under pressure from within her centre-left Workers’ party to abandon the visit, with her mentor, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, cited as being one of those in favour of cancelling.
However, cancellation would represent a setback for improving relations between the US and Brazil, which has been one of Ms Rousseff’s main foreign policy achievements.
She may opt to postpone the trip until about April to allow the scandal to die down and to reduce the risk of having the visit disrupted by further embarrassing revelations, people familiar with the matter said.
The scandal is also threatening commercial interests between the two countries.
US business is eyeing fighter jet contracts in Brazil as well as the auction next month of one of the most important offshore oilfields in the country’s giant “pre-salt” oil discoveries.
The spying revelations are likely to make it harder for US companies to secure those contracts.
“Even though the scandal will stoke nationalist sentiment and create incentives for Brasília to impose some restrictions on American companies operating in sensitive sectors, the threat of outright retaliation against Brazilian companies in the US is likely to contain the risk of the scandal escalating into a trade war,” Eurasia Group said.