Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will not visit the U.S. for her scheduled October state visit amid controversy over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, the White House announced Tuesday.
“The President has said that he understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship,” the White House said in a statement.
“President Obama and President Rousseff both look forward to the State Visit, which will celebrate our broad relationship and should not be overshadowed by a single bilateral issue, no matter how important or challenging the issue may be. For this reason, the presidents have agreed to postpone President Rousseff’s State Visit to Washington scheduled for October 23,” the statement added.
Rousseff had been angered by disclosures from former government contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA had snooped on the private conversations of some Brazilians, including her. Rousseff was not satisfied by U.S. claims that the NSA only monitored email and phone traffic and not the personal contents of conversations.
The White House said that President Obama spoke to Rousseff Monday night.
Press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday defended the decision to postpone the state visit.
“I think it’s because the relationship is so important and it has so many facets … that the president agrees with the decision to postpone this visit,” he told reporters.