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As Brazil's uproar over NSA grows, U.S. vows to work through tensions

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013
U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo concerns will be addressed.
U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo concerns will be addressed.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • National Security Advisor Susan Rice meets with Brazil's foreign minister
  • Anger is growig in Brazil over reports of NSA spying
  • Lawmakers say they plan to go to Russia and speak with Edward Snowden
  • Reports claim the NSA spied on Brazil's president, state oil company Petrobras

(CNN) -- As the furor mounts in Brazil over reports that the United States spied on President Dilma Rousseff and her advisers, the South American country's foreign minister was in Washington on Wednesday.

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo that the United States is committed to working with Brazil to address its concerns, the White House said in a statement.

But in Brazil, debate over media reports about alleged National Security Agency spying showed no signs of cooling.

Brazilian lawmakers say they plan to send a commission to Russia to speak directly with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who reportedly leaked documents cited in Brazilian media reports about the alleged espionage operations.

Reports from Globo TV citing Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil-based journalist who obtained documents from Snowden, claim that Rousseff and the state oil company Petrobras were among the targets of the NSA.

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CNN has not independently verified the reports, which drew sharp condemnation from Brazilian officials this month.

A foreign relations committee in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday approved a trip for lawmakers to travel to Moscow and interview Snowden over the matter, state-run Agencia Brasil reported.

Lawmaker Ivan Valente said authorities wanted more information, not just what had been leaked to the media.

"The leaked information is an issue of national sovereignty," he said, according to Agencia Brasil. "First, Brazilian citizens were spied on. Then companies, the president of the republic, ministers and now Petrobras."

Earlier this month, Brazil summoned the U.S. ambassador over the reports. And Rousseff has threatened to cancel her scheduled state visit to Washington in October.

In Washington, officials emphasized U.S.-Brazil ties, while acknowledging the tension over the spying claims.

'"National Security Advisor Rice expressed to Foreign Minister Figueiredo that the United States understands that recent disclosures in the press -- some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed -- have created tensions in the very strong bilateral relationship we have with Brazil," the White House said in a statement.

Reports from Brazil's Globo TV over the alleged espionage have also drawn Mexico's ire, with allegations that the NSA spied on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he promised to look into the allegations when he spoke with Peña Nieto and Rousseff at last week's G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.

"What I assured President Rousseff and President Peña Nieto is...that I take these allegations very seriously," Obama told reporters. "I understand their concerns; I understand the concerns of the Mexican and Brazilian people, and that we will work with their teams to resolve what is a source of tension."

The diplomatic tensions with Brazil and Mexico are the latest international fallout over documents leaked by Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the United States and is now living in Russia after authorities there granted him temporary asylum.

Reports of U.S. espionage also roiled European officials over the summer after Germany's Der Spiegel and Britain's The Guardian published stories alleging that the NSA had targeted European government offices.

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