By Julian Pecquet
Brazil took the extraordinary step Tuesday (Sept. 17) of putting off a state visit by President Dilma Rousseff over allegations of U.S. spying.
President Obama and Rousseff jointly agreed to “postpone” the Brazilian president’s Oct. 23 trip during a phone conversation Monday evening, the White House press office said Tuesday.
No new date was scheduled.
Rousseff’s visit was supposed to be the first official state visit of Obama’s second term, marking the United States’ increasing cooperation with the Latin American economic giant. It would have included a full dinner at the White House with a top-notch guest list.
The decision by Brazil follows allegations the National Security Agency spied on her emails and phone calls, and is the latest reverberation in the surveillance scandal that has bedeviled the White House.
In its statement, the White House said it wanted to avoid a situation where the controversy would have overshadowed the visit.
“President Obama and President Rousseff both look forward to the State Visit, which will celebrate our broad relationship and should not be overshadowed by a single bilateral issue, no matter how important or challenging the issue may be,” the White House said. “For this reason, the presidents have agreed to postpone President Rousseff’s State Visit to Washington scheduled for October 23.”
In its statement, Brazil said it was unsatisfied so far with the Obama administration’s response to the spying allegations.
“The two presidents decided to postpone the state visit since the outcome of this visit should not be conditioned on an issue which for Brazil has not been satisfactorily resolved.”
Rousseff’s ire was sparked by American journalist Glenn Greenwald’s report earlier this month for Brazil’s Globo TV that the NSA spied on her emails and phone calls. Rousseff canceled her advance team preparing for the trip earlier this month and demanded answers from Obama when the two met on the margins of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.
The White House said it is reviewing its intelligence protocols to avoid similar incidents in the future.
“The president has said that he understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship,” the White House said. “As the president previously stated, he has directed a broad review of U.S. intelligence posture, but the process will take several months to complete.”
(From The Hill)