Obama and Rousseff meet in Russia after disclosure of alleged U.S. spying

BRASILIA Fri Sep 6, 2013 1:24am EDT

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff walks after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during an official welcoming ceremony in Sofia October 5, 2011. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff walks after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during an official welcoming ceremony in Sofia October 5, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday and the two discussed disclosures that the United States had spied on her private communications, as world leaders gathered for the G20 summit of major economies in Russia.

White House official told Reuters that Obama and Rousseff had discussed the alleged eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency, which may have also targeted the communications of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, but the official did not provide any details.

Obama and Rousseff sat next to one another at the first plenary session of G20 leaders.

Rousseff, furious over the alleged monitoring of her emails and phone calls by the NSA, this week called off a trip by an advance team to Washington to prepare for a state visit to the United States by the Brazilian leader that now could be called off because of the disclosure of the NSA's activities.

Pena Nieto, who was also attending the G20 summit, said he had spoken to Obama about the matter and Obama had assured him he would launch a "full investigation" into allegations that the NSA had spied on Pena Nieto's communications last year.

"He clearly informed me that he is also interested in clearing up this issue so it does not become a topic that could eventually tarnish the relationship we are building," Pena Nieto said in an interview with Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

Brazil's presidential palace said the canceled trip to Washington was for a team of logistical planners, security personnel and protocol officers that would have left this weekend to start preparing the October 23 visit.

Rousseff may still cancel her visit to the White House in October unless she receives a public apology from the United States for the alleged spying, a senior Brazilian official told Reuters.

The visit, which is the only such invitation extended by Obama this year, was intended 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.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy U.S. national security adviser, said Washington will 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."

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Maria Carolina Marcello. Additional reporting by Steve Holland in St. Petersburg, Russia and David Alire Garcia in Mexico City.; Editing by Paulo Prada and Christopher Wilson)

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