US VP Biden meets Brazil leader Rousseff

AP News
Posted: Jun 17, 2014 10:47 AM
US VP Biden meets Brazil leader Rousseff

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden briefly met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday in a bid to thaw frosty relations between the two nations.

Leaving the gathering in Brasilia, Biden told reporters that the meeting had gone well, but he offered no details. The vice president had watched the U.S. team beat Ghana 2-1 on Monday in its first match of this year's World Cup.

The Brazilian government had said earlier that Biden and Brazil's Vice President Michel Temer would make a joint statement after meeting with Rousseff, but that plan was scrapped without explanation Tuesday morning. Instead, Biden is now expected to make a statement later at the U.S. Embassy.

Relations between Brazil and the U.S. quickly soured after revelations last year that Brazil is a main target of the National Security Agency's massive spying program, largely because the nation is an important hub for trans-Atlantic fiber optic cables that carry much of the globe's communications.

However, what particularly enraged Rousseff were reports that her personal communication was hacked by the NSA, including emails and calls with her top aides. Other reports indicated that the NSA hacked the computer network of state-run oil company Petrobras.

In response, Rousseff cancelled a state dinner offered by Washington — the first such rebuff to any recent U.S. president. Since then, Rousseff has demanded the U.S. publicly apologize over the spying. No apology has been issued.

Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue, said Biden's visit had the modest aim "to avoid further deterioration in U.S.-Brazil relations and to prepare the ground for an eventual improvement."

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"This is not the right moment to take significant steps in deepening the relationship — never mind forging a 'strategic partnership,' " he said.

Shifter added that with Rousseff facing an October re-election that's growing more competitive, she's unlikely to make any big shifts in Brazil's relationship with the U.S. before then.

"For the moment, Biden is merely trying to give a more positive tenor to the relationship, and to lay the groundwork for more substantive progress down the road," he said.


Associated Press writer Bradley Brooks contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.