Obama Says Brazil, U.S. Are ‘Natural Partners’ Around World

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Obama and Rousseff aim to show they've moved beyond tensions sparked by the revelation nearly two years ago that the U.S. was spying on Rousseff. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Obama and Rousseff aim to show they've moved beyond tensions sparked by the revelation nearly two years ago that the U.S. was spying on Rousseff. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sought Tuesday to cast their nations as "natural partners" collaborating closely on critical issues like climate and regional diplomacy, glossing over recent tensions over spying that have strained relations between the U.S. and Brazil.

At a joint White House news conference, Obama said the relationship the U.S. has with Brazil is a "cornerstone" of America's relations with Latin America. Rousseff said the relationship was on an "upward trajectory" and described her talks with Obama this week as fruitful.

"I believe that this visit marks one more step in a new more ambitious chapter in the relations between our countries," Obama said. "We are focused on the future."

Not so long ago, Rousseff canceled a visit to the U.S. to protest disclosures in 2013 that the U.S. had spied on her communications. Vice President Joe Biden and other top officials have spent the last two years attempting to repair the damage to the relationship inflicted by those revelations.

Obama, in his opening remarks, merely hinted at the tensions caused by the spying scandal. He said Rousseff's visit marks "one more step" and a "new more ambitious chapter" in relations between two of the world's largest economies.

In tandem with Rousseff's visit, Brazil pledged Tuesday to curb illegal deforestation and expand renewable energy use, as the United States and Brazil worked to build momentum toward a budding global climate treaty. Brazil is vowing by 2030 to restore and reforest 12 million hectares - an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania.

Brazil also plans to expand renewable sources other than hydropower to between 28 percent and 33 percent of its total energy mix by 2030. And in the electricity sector, the U.S. and Brazil jointly announced intentions to increase their share of renewable, non-hydropower sources to 20 percent by 2030. That will require tripling the amount of renewable energy on the U.S. electricity grid, while doubling it in Brazil, officials said.

BY JOSH LEDERMAN - Jun 30, 12:45 PM EDTAP

 
 

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