the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the Vice President to the Press at U.S. Embassy -- Brasilia, Brazil

Brasilia, Brazil

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It’s good to be back in the embassy.  I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the embassy in a few moments.

Look, before I begin, on behalf of the United States, I’d like to extend my condolences for the loss of life and the destruction caused by the floods in Brazil.  I had a brief conversation with the President about that this morning, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Brazilian people and those who are in distress.

I want to thank -- I want to start off by thanking the President and the Vice President for the hospitality and warmth that they extended in welcoming me today.  It’s good to see them both again.  It’s not my first visit, and we’ve become friends and it was great to see them again.  And as you probably are aware, I always enjoy my time with President Rousseff.  We get along really well, and we enjoy each other’s company.  And I always learn something when I’m with her. 

But before I begin to speak about the conversations we had, I wanted you to know how much I look forward -- and I have my granddaughter with me, and my nephew.  This is my granddaughter’s second trip to the embassy and to Brazil.  But when she heard I was going to the World Cup, as a soccer player, she importuned me to say, Pop, I’m going with you, okay?  (Laughter.)  And it was a great -- it makes me a wonderful grandfather, I want you to know now.  (Laughter.)  I am the favorite grandfather in the family right now.

But we had -- the three of us had a wonderful, wonderful time last night.  First of all, all the talk about the stadium -- the stadium is beautiful, absolutely beautiful.  And it met every expectation.  But I must tell you, we were even more excited about what was happening on the field than what happened in the construction of the stadium.

Watching the United States win last night was a great thrill for us.  And we got to go down to the locker room afterwards and I got to renew acquaintances with some of the players, in particularly our goalie, who played an incredible game last night, because I had seen him in the World Cup down in South Africa just four years earlier.  And we committed to meeting at the next World Cup, as well.  He’ll probably have the same job; I’m not sure I’ll have the same one.  (Laughter.)  But we had a great, great, great time.

And with regard to the -- what we’ve seen so far, Brazil has done an incredible job in preparing for and getting these games underway.  And we also wanted -- the President would have liked to have traded spots with me, but we wanted to show our great support for Brazil and the people of Brazil in hosting these games.

The President and I, Dilma, we had a long private conversation.  We met alone, talking about the prospects of how to bring our nations even closer together and our people closer together.  There is already a great deal of mutual benefit that exists for our people in the existing relationship.  We already have $100 billion in a trade relationship; there’s no reason, over time, that can’t double.  There’s no reason why that can’t continue to grow. 

The United States invests roughly $80 billion in foreign direct investment in Brazil, and more than 25,000 Brazilian students are presently studying in 200 universities in America in 46 states.  Our scientists and engineers are collaborating with one another on a whole range of technical issues, including energy.  And our diplomats are working on regional and global problems together.

As evidence of how tightly connected we are, one of my staff members last night said -- when he ordered a Budweiser beer, to the host said, well, it’s nice of you to have an American beer here, and they smiled and said, no, no, Brazil owns Budweiser.  (Laughter.)  So there is a lot closer ties than we’re given credit for.

But as Dilma and I talked, there was -- we talked about a lot more we could do together.  We are two strong diverse democracies with a generous and entrepreneurial people.  The fact of the matter is -- I was telling her about one of the conversations I had with Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore and about how the nations of the future that will lead the world are those nations with diverse populations that are fully integrated and are open societies.  And on that score, we have a clear convergence of values with Brazil, and no obvious conflict of interest with Brazil.

And so there’s great, great potential for strengthening this partnership, and that was reflected in our conversation today.  And like any global partners, we began the conversation today with a fairly long discussion of the situation in Iraq.  We talked at length about our common interests in seeing a stable, united Iraq, a democratic Iraq, an Iraq that is continuing to make an even greater contribution to the world energy supply in order to stabilize markets around the world, and -- we had a long discussion about Iraq. 

And we also talked, as partners do, about Venezuela and our mutual interest in bringing greater political inclusion, stability, and, quite frankly, the protection of basic human rights.  We discussed the work that Brazil and other regional partners have already done to find a solution.  We discussed how she and I had spoke in Chile and -- the inauguration of the president, and how the notion was hatched that we would begin a process including the Vatican in the process.  We talked about how it has to move beyond where those talks are now so that we can deliver for the people of both our countries some progress in the area of Venezuela. 

We also talked about our relationship to be able to deliver to the people of both our countries on economic issues, energy issues and people-to-people ties.  We discussed the common effort we have to protect and secure the Internet.  That is not a tool of government repression; it is owned by the people of the world.  And there is -- this is an area where Brazil has shown important leadership, and we discussed how we can continue to cooperate.

Of course, we also -- and I’m sure this is what most of you are here to find out -- we discussed -- U.S. surveillance programs were disclosed last year.  I know the issue matters a lot to people here; quite frankly, it matters a lot to the people of the United States, as well.  And President Rousseff and I had a chance to have a candid conversation about it, and I told her what she already knew -- that President Obama ordered an immediate review after we learned of the disclosures.  And based on his instructions, we have made real changes in our process, and we are taking a new approach on these issues.

Last January, the United States announced important reforms, including applying many of the same privacy protections that are accorded under our Constitution to the people of our country to citizens of the world.  And we will keep consulting closely with our friends and partners like Brazil as things proceed.

And finally, I was pleased to announce that the United States is standing up a special project to declassify and share with Brazil’s National Truth Commission documents that shed light on Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship, which is obviously of great interest to the President.  And we turned over an initial batch of those documents today to the Brazilian government.  And I hope that by taking steps to come to grip with the past, we can find a way to focus on the immense promise of the future.

Because when it comes to the United States and Brazil and our relationship, the sky is literally the limit of what we could achieve together.  And we can do it to the immense benefit of both of our people, and, quite frankly, the entire hemisphere and the world in the decades to come. 

Before I conclude, I would like to say a word about Iraq, as well.  We have been -- the United States government has been working to support the Iraqi government and all of Iraq’s communities in their common fight against this vicious threat of terror, so-called ISIL.  We are consulting closely -- and I’ve been on the phone with their leaders as well over the past week -- we’re consulting closely with a full range of Iraq’s leaders on an inclusive political path forward, even as we provide assistance to Iraq’s security forces. 

Urgent assistance is clearly required.  But we also need to help Iraq build the capacity to confront threats over the long term.  And that’s going to require setting aside sectarianism, dealing with legitimate grievances, building up an inclusive security force, and ensuring that all communities live together and have their voices heard.  This is particularly important now, and the opportunity exists in government formation after the Supreme Court of Iraq has certified the election results I believe yesterday.

The bottom line here is that Iraqis have to put together and pull together in order to defeat this enemy, and then move toward building a better future for Iraqi -- all Iraqi people.  And we will help them in that effort.

Thank you all very much, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the folks in the embassy.  Thank you.  (Applause.)