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September 17, 2013

Brazil's president scraps state visit amid anger over NSA

President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff have agreed to postpone an October state visit amid Brazilian outrage over NSA surveillance, the White House said Tuesday.

The cancellation -- the first diplomatic dustup prompted by the revelations of NSA spying -- comes even as Obama sought to ally concerns, meeting privately with Rouseff at the G20 in St. Petersburg and dispatching National Security Advisor Susan Rice to meet with Brazil's Foreign Minister. 

Obama spoke with Rousseff by phone Monday and the two agreed it was best to postpone the state visit -- which would have been the first of Obama's second term -- press secretary Jay Carney said.

Obama's invitation was a "reflection of the importance he places on this growing global partnership and the close bonds between the American and Brazilian people," Carney said -- but, he added, Rousseff and Obama believe the dinner "should not be overshadowed by a single bilateral issue, no matter how important or challenging the issue may be."

Brazil’s O Globo television network reported earlier this month that the National Security Agency had spied on the emails, telephone calls and text messages of Rousseff and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico. The report was based on documents obtained by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, from Edward Snowden, a fugitive former NSA contractor who’s living in Moscow.

Carney said Obama "understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that is he committed to working together" with Rousseff and her government .. "to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship."

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Jeremy Flannery

I will bet that U.S. public officials knew he was going to scrap the visit before he did!

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