(Refiles to restore time element, reference to Reuters Summit)
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON Oct 24 Concerns about U.S. spying
have taken a significant toll on U.S.-Brazilian relations, but
have not had a broad-based effect on U.S. foreign policy or the
Obama administration's efforts to promote U.S. exports, a top
White House adviser said on Thursday.
Ben Rhodes, national security adviser for strategic
communications, acknowledged that reports of U.S. National
Security Agency spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had
strained Washington's ties with Brazil, prompting Rousseff to
cancel a state visit and derailing a $4 billion potential arms
sale by Boeing Co.
He told the Washington Reuters Summit the rift with Brazil
was a "unique challenge" but that the two most populous
countries in the Americas still had a strong economic
relationship and other areas of close cooperation.
Rhodes said he did not see concerns about NSA spying as
undermining efforts by the Obama administration to step up U.S.
arms exports, or its foreign policy generally.
"I don't think you can say there's been some
across-the-board impact on American foreign policy. I think it's
been very unique to some circumstances," Rhodes said. "Brazil is
at the more significant end of that spectrum."
He said it was unclear whether the United States could
resurrect a potential fighter jet sale to Brazil that Boeing had
hoped could extend production of its F/A-18 Super Hornet
warplane beyond 2016.
"That's a judgment that will be made by the Brazilians," he
said. "We obviously always support U.S. exporters. We supported
Boeing in a host of arms sales around the world and will
continue to do so."
Brazilian officials have said Brazil will not buy such a
strategic aircraft from a country it cannot trust.
"We will have to do work, frankly, to put the U.S.-Brazil
relationship on a stronger footing on the other end of this,"
Rhodes told the summit.
Dennis Muilenburg, the head of Boeing's defense, security
and space business, told Reuters in September that he believed
Brazil would decide the fighter competition on the merits of the
aircraft, not the spying scandal.
Boeing's Super Hornet fighter is competing against the
Rafale made by France's Dassault Aviation AVMD.PA and Gripen
made by Sweden's Saab SAABb.ST for a contract to supply 36 jets.
A high-level Brazilian government source told Reuters in
August that the spying scandal had undermined the country's
trust in the United States, and could negatively affect the
fighter jet decision.
In September, Rousseff called off her plans for an October
state visit to Washington. She later used a speech at the U.N.
General Assembly to accuse the United States of violating human
rights and international law through espionage.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Peter Cooney)