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Rapprochement in the wind with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visit

June 30, 2015 - UNITED STATES

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visits United States President Barack Obama in Washington DC, with both sides keen to mend fences in the interests of trade.

The leftist Brazilian leader cancelled a state visit to the United States in Oct 2013 after revelations that US spies had tapped her personal communications. The United States and Brazil are the hemisphere's biggest economies.

Historically, relations between the two countries have never been strong as they vied to be regional leaders and found themselves on opposite sides during U.S. tensions with Venezuela and Cuba. The situation took a turn for the worse in 2013, when U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the intelligence agency spied on foreign leaders and entities, including Brazil and Rousseff. This increased the friction between Brasilia and Washington and led to Rousseff pulling out of a trip to Washington and becoming a vocal critic of the United States.

Rousseff and Obama met on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in April. The same summit saw Cuba and the United States tearing down a fence when Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama held an historic face-to-face meeting.

Both Brasilia and Washington have something to gain from rapprochement. A successful visit by Rousseff would help the flagging Brazilian economy and her popularity, which has plummeted. The Brazilian leader is reported to be interested in making headway in the U.S. weapons market. Brazilian manufacturer Embraer is building A-29 Super Tucano turboprop aircraft for the US Air Force and has significant sales of its commercial aircraft in the United States. For the U.S., mended fences could mean access to Brazil's (US) $2.2 trillion economy, Latin America's biggest.

Obama says Brazil's Rousseff to visit United States in late June (Reuters 11 Apr 2015)

Hitting reset: Brazil's Rousseff to visit Washington in June (Blouin News 6 May 2015)

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer oversees North America operations from Fort Lauderdale (Miami Herald 2 Nov 2014)

Date written/update: 2015-06-10