BRASILIA, (Reuters) – Brazil has canceled a trip by an advance team to Washington to prepare for a visit by President Dilma Rousseff that might be called off after revelations the United States spied on her private communications.
Brazil’s presidential palace said yesterday it canceled a trip by an advance team of logistical planners, security personnel and protocol officers that was due to leave for Washington this weekend to start preparing the Oct. 23 state visit. No reason was given for the cancellation.
The White House said President Barack Obama might meet with Rousseff on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia to discuss the latest revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency that have set off a diplomatic crisis.
At the first plenary session of leaders of the G20 leading economies, Obama sat next to Rousseff and the two leaders spoke.
Rousseff is furious about a report that the NSA spied on her emails and phone calls, and she may cancel her visit to the White House in October unless she receives a public apology, a senior Brazilian official told Reuters on Wednesday.
The visit, which is the only such invitation extended by Obama this year, was meant to highlight a recent improvement in relations between the two biggest economies in the Americas, as well as Brazil’s emergence over the past decade as a vibrant economy and regional power.
Rousseff’s office said her state visit has not been canceled and another, larger advance team is scheduled go to Washington before her trip.
The Brazilian government has given the United States until Friday to give it a written explanation of what the NSA was doing monitoring Rousseff’s communications, as reported on Sunday by a Brazilian television program based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
“The President, I think, will be able to see President Rousseff on the margins of the G20, I’m sure, and to discuss these issues,” deputy national security adviser for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes, said on Thursday.
Rhodes said Washington will continue to work to resolve the dispute through “diplomatic and intelligence channels.”
“We understand how important this is to the Brazilians. We understand their strength of feeling on the issue,” he said. “What we’re focused on is making sure the Brazilians understand exactly what the nature of our intelligence effort is.”