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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Brazil’s Rousseff urged by top advisers to cancel U.S. visit

– Top advisers to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff are urging her to cancel her planned state visit to the White House next month after revelations the U.S. National Security Agency spied on her and other Brazilians.

Among those now encouraging Rousseff to cancel the trip is former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a senior government official told Reuters on Saturday on condition of anonymity. Lula preceded Rousseff in office and remains enormously influential in important government decisions.

A former Cabinet minister under Lula, Franklin Martins, who also remains influential with Rousseff, previously urged her to cancel the trip, the official said.

The official told Reuters that Rousseff had not yet made up her mind and would only do so after a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with her foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo.

Figueiredo traveled to Washington this week to hear U.S. officials’ explanation for the espionage, and is due to provide Rousseff with his official report.

Recent disclosures that the United States spied on Brazil, based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have complicated years of diplomatic efforts to improve relations between the two biggest economies in the Americas.

Rousseff’s state visit, scheduled for October 23, was the only event of its kind scheduled in Washington this year. The trip was to serve as a platform for deals on oil exploration and biofuels technology, as well as Brazil’s potential purchase of fighter jets from Chicago-based Boeing Co.

But Rousseff, a moderate leftist, has been enraged by revelations that the NSA monitored communications between her and her top aides, as well as those of other Brazilians.

Earlier this month, Rousseff met U.S. President Barack Obama for nearly 45 minutes on the sidelines of an international summit in Russia. Afterward, Obama promised to address her concerns and said the U.S. government needed to “step back and review what it is that we’re doing” when gathering intelligence.

After Figueiredo’s meeting this week with U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice, Washington issued a statement saying that recent reports had raised “legitimate questions for our friends and allies” about U.S. intelligence.

Rousseff has rejected Washington’s contention that it only gathers information critical to U.S. national security. Brazil is a peaceful democracy with no history of international terrorism or access to weapons of mass destruction.

(Editing by Todd Benson and Peter Cooney)

Source:Reuters

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