In Brief - Brazil

FOREIGN AFFAIRS | Biden calls Rousseff over US spying case. Brazil’s social communications minister Helena Chagas said on 19 July that the US vice president Joe Biden had telephoned President Dilma Rousseff to explain in general terms the recent scandal over alleged US intelligence gathering activities in Brazil and said he “regretted” any damage done to bilateral relations as a result. According to Chagas, Biden reiterated an invitation for a Brazilian delegation to travel to Washington to receive more “technical” and “political” details. President Rousseff, who is set to go on an official trip to the US in October, the first by a Brazilian president in 20 years, expressed her concern to Biden and called for clarifications on behalf of the government and Brazilian society. She defended policy changes so that privacy is not at risk in the future and said she hoped the spying allegations would be cleared up before her trip. Brazil has mooted an international debate at the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union to discuss ways to protect privacy. The Rousseff government is also mooting changes to oblige local and international internet and telecoms companies operating in Brazil to store their data inside the country, so as to reduce the risk of interference. There was no word from Chagas as to whether the US ambassador to Brazil, Tom Shannon, would accept a federal senate ‘invitation’ to come before the Brazilian parliament to explain the allegations, which he has said have been misreported. Such an appearance would be an unprecedented break with diplomatic protocol.

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