US Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he is confident that relations between the United States and Brazil can improve following a cooling caused by last year's revelations that the National Security Agency spied on the country's president. "I am confident they can," Biden said when asked by reporters about the future of Brazilian-US relations as he arrived for a meeting with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia.
Biden arrived in Brazil on Monday to watch the US soccer team, which defeated Ghana 2-1 in their opening game of the World Cup in the northeastern city of Natal. "America won yesterday," Biden said with a smile. But then it was back to business - mending relations that were put on hold following revelations based on documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden. According to the material, the agency spied on Rousseff and other Brazilian officials.
Rousseff, who canceled a state visit to Washington in response, recently indicated she was ready to move on from the spat. That could unlock faster progress on trade, offshore oil development and other long-elusive cooperation between the two biggest economies in the Americas. Earlier this month, Brazil's left-leaning leader told reporters she was eager to reschedule her Washington trip - but only if she gets a "strong signal that (spying) won't be repeated."
In response to the uproar over NSA spying in Brazil, Germany and elsewhere, President Barack Obama said in January that the United States would no longer spy on heads of state of allied countries. US officials hope that face-to-face assurances from a leader for whom Rousseff has respect will be enough to turn the page on the spying scandal and move on.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by W Simon)