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US admits spying 'questionable' to angry Brazil

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-12

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff demands to know what the NSA gathered on her and on the nation's petrol company, Petrobas, as the US admits its spying on friendly governments raises “legitimate questions” for allies.

The White House has admitted there are “legitimate questions” to be answered over US spying on its allies following claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and hacked into the computer
networks of state-run oil company Petrobras.

Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security advisor, met Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo at the White House on Wednesday as Washington attempts to smooth over relations with one of its key allies in South America.

During the meeting, Rice told Figueiredo that the United States understands Brazil’s anger over the alleged spying, based on information from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Rice acknowledged that certain disclosures "raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed”, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council.

“The United States is committed to working with Brazil to address these concerns, while we continue to work together on a shared agenda of bilateral, regional and global initiatives,” Hayden said.

Rousseff: ‘I want to know everything that they have’

Whether the meeting will help heal the diplomatic rift between Brazil and the US over NSA spying remains unclear.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been among the most vocal foreign leaders expressing outrage over US surveillance of allies. "I want to know everything that they have, everything," she said.

She threatened to cancel an October state visit to Washington after documents revealed the US had been monitoring communications between Rousseff and her advisers.

After discussing the issue with Obama during an economic summit last week in St Petersburg, Russia, Rousseff asserted that spying on a friendly country was incompatible with democratic alliances. She said Obama had promised answers and told her he didn’t want her to cancel her trip.

The rift in US-Brazil relations deepened  on Sunday after a report by Brazil’s Globo TV, based on leaked documents from Snowden, said the NSA also targeted the country’s state-run oil company, Petrobras.

Roussef said these allegations, if proved true, would amount to industrial espionage with no security justification.

"If the facts reported by the press are confirmed, it will be evident that the motive for the spying attempts is not security or the war on terrorism but strategic economic interests," Rousseff said in a statement.

Obama has been heavily criticized at home and abroad since Snowden disclosed secret details about telephone and e-mail information gathered by the NSA.

He has had to appease allies including Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and has pledged to improve oversight of the surveillance programs to try to restore trust in the system among Americans.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-09-12

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