By Matthew Elliott, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President Dilma Rousseff demanded total transparency from U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday over allegations that American agencies had conducted spying operations on Brazil’s leadership. At a meeting at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Obama pledged to work together with Brazil and Mexico to resolve tensions inflamed by the revelations leaked last Sunday.
Before boarding her plane back to Brasília, Rousseff spoke to the press about her 30-minute meeting with her American counterpart behind closed doors late on Thursday at the annual gathering of major economies.
“I want to know everything there is about Brazil,” she stated, adding that “it is complicated that I become aware of these matters in the newspapers,” referring to the first and second batch of U.S. spying allegations that emerged through O Globo newspaper and television channel.
She also reiterated that Brazil would seek to bring the issue before an international forum such as the United Nations as the controversy extended beyond the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
“All countries are threatened,” she said. “What happened to Brazil is very serious because Brazil is a strong, solid and great democracy that has lived for more than 140 years in harmony with its neighbors, has no ethnic and religious conflicts and does not harbor terrorist groups. This puts to rest any justification that such espionage would be combating terrorism.”
Asked on the status of her scheduled state visit to Washington in October, Rousseff declined to comment fully but made clear that certain ‘political conditions’ would first have to be fulfilled. Rousseff canceled her top aides’ advance trip to the U.S. last week, who were set to organize her state visit.
In a press conference, President Obama struck a conciliatory tone. “I take the allegations very seriously. I understand their concerns and we will work to solve them and find the source of tension.”
“The last thing I wanted to say about it is that just because there are tensions, does not mean they are bigger than the amazing range of common interests we have with these countries,” said Obama.
The NSA spying controversy has strained U.S.-Brazilian relations with both ordinary citizens and and political leadership revealed to be subjects of an American intelligence monitoring regime.
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