Amid rising tensions sparked by revelations of pervasive US spying on Brazil's president and others, Liliana Ayalde, the new US ambassador to Brazil, arrived in Brasilia Monday.
At her first press conference just after landing, Ayalde declined to comment on the ongoing spying scandal. Instead, she read a statement highlighting the importance of Brazil-US relations and her hopes for strengthening those ties during her mandate.
"This is an important time in our relations, full of opportunities and possibilities. Together, I am sure we can expand and deepen the many ties between our two important and great nations. Over the next years, I hope to engage Brazil's government and people to build a stronger strategic partnership for the 21st century," Ayalde said.
Ayalde, who replaces Thomas Shannon after his three-year tenure as ambassador, previously served as deputy assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, covering Cuba, Central America and the Caribbean, and as US ambassador to Paraguay from 2008 to 2011.
After revelations first came to light in July that Washington's global surveillance program targeted Brazil in particular, Shannon was summoned by Brazil's Congress, but he declined, saying he was not authorized to discuss the matter. Ensuing explanations by the US government were considered unsatisfactory.
At a recent G20 meeting in Russia, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she asked President Barack Obama to provide an explanation. His administration did so on Wednesday, but was found lacking.
The US maintains its spying program aims to thwart terrorism, but Brazil alleges the real motive is industrial espionage, pointing to intercepted emails carrying sensitive data on Brazil's oil reserves.
Rousseff is reported to be considering canceling a scheduled trip to Washington, D.C. in October to show her discontent.