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Rousseff postpones US trip over NSA spying
September 17, 2013, 10:28 pm

Obama, right, said he regrets the "concerns" raised by the alleged NSA spying activities [AP]

Obama, right, said he regrets the “concerns” raised by the alleged NSA spying activities [AP]

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Tuesday that she is postponing her first official visit to the US during the Obama administration’s second term because she has not received adequate answers about alleged National Security Agency spying in her country.

“Given the closeness of the scheduled visit to Washington and the lack of investigation in the matter … the conditions are lacking for the visit to take place on the previously agreed date,” said a statement from the presidency’s press advisor.

The trip was initially scheduled to begin on October 23.

“The illegal practices of intercepting the communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government constitute a serious act against national sovereignty and individual rights, and incompatible with the democratic coexistence of friendly countries,” the presidential statement said.

Rousseff will, however, go ahead with her planned trip to New York, where she will address the United Nations General Assembly, which began Tuesday. In the speech, Rousseff is expected to talk about the espionage problems and defend the right to privacy.

Brazil had for weeks requested explanations from Washington on information of US spying in Brazil that was first revealed when NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked vital intelligence data to the media.

The data showed that there was a persistent and continuing effort by the US government to use a widespread surveillance scheme that monitored millions of e-mails and phone calls made by Brazilian citizens and companies, as well as foreigners in the country.

The spying fallout has hurt relations between the two countries; in early September, the Brazilian Senate formed an Investigative Parliamentary Commission to probe reports that the NSA monitored emails and intercepted phone calls between Rousseff and several of her top aides.

Rousseff discussed the issue with US President Barack Obama when they met on the sidelines of the G20 Saint Petersburg Summit in early September.

Rousseff left Russia with the understanding that Obama would give her a formal response about the spying allegations.

Meanwhile, the White House press office responded with a statement saying that both leaders had agreed to postpone the visit until after a comprehensive review of spying activities had been completed in the US.

“The President has said that he understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged US 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 statement said.

The statement said that the review process is likely to take several months.

“For this reason, the presidents have agreed to postpone President Rousseff’s State Visit to Washington scheduled for October 23,” said the statement.

On Monday, Brazil and Argentina decided to step up cyber-defense cooperation in response to the NSA alleged spying programme.

“We have established that we will hold a meeting in Brasilia before the end of the year to intensify our complementarity in the matter of cyber defense,” Argentine defense minister Agustin Rossi said after talks with his Brazilian counterpart.

Source: Agencies