Two years after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff scrapped a state visit to the White House, she and President Barack Obama are trying to make amends Tuesday.
Rousseff met with and speaking alongside Obama as part of an attempt to move past the spying revelations that led Rousseff to abruptly cancel a Brazilian trip in September 2013. Information leaked by security contractor Edward Snowden revealed that American authorities had been spying on her communications. Rousseff eventually asked for an apology,
“We recognize that the U.S.-Brazil relationship went through a turbulent patch after the disclosures that took place related to U.S. intelligence activities a couple of years ago,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Monday. “So this visit I think really does indicate the extent to which we’ve turned the page and are moving forward.”
On Tuesday, both leaders presented a unified front on trade and climate issues.
“As two of the world’s largest economies, we understand that lasting prosperity and confronting the injustices of poverty and inequality can only come when we invest in our people,” Obama said at the top of his remarks.
He added, however, that “We have not made it a practice to issue apologies related to our surveillance activities.” He continued, “What the President has done, though, is make changes based upon his very thorough review of our various programs.”
Rhodes conceded that frays in the relationship have thwarted progress on issues that should not have been difficult to make inroads on.
The bilateral leaders this week will discuss global trade and efforts to combat climate change, among other issues. While Rhodes did not say the White House would push Brazil to cut its emissions ahead of an upcoming Paris climate change conference in which specific commitments by countries to cut emissions are sought, he described the meeting as a “key milestone” before the negotiations.
The pair will also look to broaden the trade relationship between the two Western Hemisphere powers, a topic the leaders were supposed to approach back in 2013.