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US president promises answers on spying by Wednesday

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, angered by a recent report that the US government spied on her communications, said today that President Barack Obama had taken responsibility for what happened and that she may proceed with a planned visit to Washington next month.

Rousseff, speaking to reporters following a one-on-one meeting with Obama on the sidelines of an international summit in Russia late yesterday, said the US president had agreed to respond formally to the spying allegations by next Wednesday.

“My trip to Washington depends on the political conditions to be created by President Obama,” said Rousseff, according to the official Twitter feed of the Brazilian presidency.

Obama promised to give the Brazilian government an answer by next Wednesday to its request for an explanation to the spying report, Rousseff said before leaving Russia. Obama pledged to be directly responsible for investigating what happened, she said.

A Brazilian news programme reported on Sunday that the US National Security Agency spied on emails, phone calls and text messages of Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The report by Globo TV was based on documents leaked by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Rousseff is due to make a formal state visit to Washington on October 23 to meet US President Barack Obama and discuss a possible $4 billion jet-fighter deal, cooperation on oil and biofuels technology, as well as other commercial agreements.

The visit was meant to cap a recent improvement in relations between the two biggest economies in the Americas and highlight Brazil’s emergence as regional power.

Rousseff was furious over the reported snooping into her personal communications and a senior government official said on Wednesday that she might cancel the state visit to the White House unless she got an apology. Brasilia even called off a trip by an advance team to Washington to prepare for the visit.

But last night, Obama and Rousseff met and discussed the alleged NSA eavesdropping during the summit of the world’s top 20 economies in St. Petersburg, a White House official told Reuters. The presidents sat next to one another earlier at the first plenary session of G20 leaders. (Reuters)

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