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Brazil presses EU for undersea cable to skirt U.S. links

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pressed ahead on Monday with plans to lay an undersea communications cable directly to Europe to reduce Brazil’s reliance on the United States following reports that Washington spied on Brasilia.

At the annual EU-Brazil summit, Rousseff is seeking to define financing for the $185 million project that could be in place next year in an effort to shield Brazil’s Internet traffic from U.S. surveillance, EU and Brazilian officials said.

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“We are working on the financial architecture for a fiber-optic link that would be a direct connection between Brazil and Europe,” said one official as Rousseff arrived in Brussels for talks with the presidents of the European Commission and European Council.

Rousseff postponed a state visit to Washington last year in protest at the U.S. National Security Agency spying on her email and phone.

EU leaders are sympathetic to Brazil’s call following the revelations of fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that showed the agency also eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone and some EU institutions.

Brazil relies on U.S. undersea cables to carry almost all of its communications to Europe. The only existing cable between Europe and Brazil is outdated and only used for voice transmission.

“As far as cyber is concerned, we share a common interest in a right balance between privacy and openness on the Internet,” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said as he received Rousseff, but did not directly refer to the cable project.

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U.S. President Barack Obama has since banned spying on the leaders of close allies, but trust has been damaged.

Brussels is threatening the suspension of EU-U.S. agreements for data transfers unless Washington increases guarantees for the protection of EU citizens’ data.

Another official, who declined to be named, said the Brazil-EU plan is part of the wider discussion for the “preservation of the Internet as a space for freedom of communication, managed transparently with full respect of individuals.”

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Under current plans, a joint venture between Brazilian telecoms provider Telebras and Spain’s IslaLink Submarine Cables would lay the communications link. Telebras would have a 35 percent stake, IslaLink would have a 45 percent interest and European and Brazilian pension funds could put up the remainder.

One official said Brazil’s overall stake in the project must be over 50 percent and so Brazilian funds will put up more than European ones.

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(Additional reporting by Tony Boadle in Brasilia; Editing by John Stonestreet)


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Trump announces he has unilaterally decided to let Putin back into the G7 Summit: report

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President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he intends to let Russia attend the next Group of Seven summit.

Since 2014, Russia's membership in the organization has been suspending in response to Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea. That changed the name from the G8 Summit to the G7 Summit.

The announcement came from pool reporter Gabby Orr of Politico, who said Trump will also invite South Korea, Australia and India to the next summit, which he is postponing until September.

More via pooler: “‘I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries,’ he said. Alyssa Farah said this is bringing together our traditional allies to talk about how to deal with the future of China.”

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Merkel a ‘no’ for Trump’s in-person G7 summit

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend an in-person summit of G7 leaders that US President Donald Trump has suggested he will host despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, a German government spokesman said Saturday.

Leaders from the Group of Seven, which the United States heads this year, had been scheduled to meet by videoconference in late June after COVID-19 scuttled plans to gather in-person at Camp David, the US presidential retreat in the state of Maryland.

Trump last week, however, indicated that he could hold the huge gathering after all, "primarily at the White House" but also potentially parts of it at Camp David.

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Bad tempered post-Brexit talks enter crucial phase

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Britain and the EU will attempt to revive their imperilled trade talks on Tuesday, entering a crucial week of negotiations that could mark the final hope for a deal.

Hundreds of officials will hold video talks all week from London and Brussels, the fourth and last scheduled round of negotiations since Britain formally left the EU on January 31.

The previous round ended in acrimony with the EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier asking his UK counterpart David Frost to watch his "tone" in a tetchy exchange of letters.

The EU and Britain have until the end of the year to reach a deal on future ties, without which trade links could be seriously compromised, even as the fallout from the coronavirus saps their economies.

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