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Kerry defends U.S. spying on Brazil

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry indicated during his visit to Brazil Tuesday the U.S. would continue to monitor individual and corporate communications in Brazil for security reasons.

Kerry urged Brazil not to let the revelations of U.S. secret surveillance program damage growing trade, diplomatic and cultural relations between the two largest economies in the Americas.

Speaking at a press conference with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, Kerry said, "What the United States has been trying to do is to prevent these things (terrorist attacks) from happening beforehand by knowing what others might be plotting."

"The United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations in order to protect their citizens. We are convinced that our intelligence collection has positively helped us to protect our nation from a variety of threats," he said.

Kerry called on Brazilians to overlook the privacy breach and instead concentrate on other areas of bilateral relations.

"The people of Brazil should stay focused on the important realities of our relationship, the bilateral relations between our countries, which continue to grow stronger and stronger," he said.

In an effort to ease the tension caused by the spying revelations, Kerry stressed the spying programs were drafted after the 9/11 attacks to protect innocent lives from terrorism.

He pledged Washington would work to provide transparency about the program for Brazil and other nations offended by the surveillance.

Patriota, meanwhile, called for an end to the controversial program, saying it violated sovereignty and privacy.

"The region and the international community are concerned over the practices which may threaten the sovereignty of countries and the rights of individuals," he said.

The U.S. mass surveillance program on both its enemies and allies were first revealed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who was recently granted a year-long temporary asylum in Russia.

More detailed revelations then ran in Brazil's daily O Globo last month, which said the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitored telephone and Internet communications going in and out of Brazil through a base in Brasilia.

The base, part of a worldwide network of 16 such stations operated by the NSA, also intercepted foreign satellite transmissions, it claimed.

Kerry will meet President Dilma Rousseff later Tuesday as part of preparations for her upcoming state visit to Washington on Oct. 23, when she will meet her U.S. counterpart Barack Obama.

[Source: Xinhua, Rio de Janeiro, 13Aug13]

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