July 6, 2015 / 10:36 PM / 2 years ago

Corrected - Brazil's Rousseff tops off U.S. tour with Silicon Valley visit

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff checks her watch as she addresses the media during her visit at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California July 1, 2015.Stephen Lam

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff capped off her U.S. tour on Wednesday with a visit to Silicon Valley, where she met with top technology executives and took a ride in Google Inc's (GOOGL.O) self-driving car.

Rousseff used her visit to strengthen ties with U.S. technology companies after visiting Washington, D.C. and New York City earlier in the week.

During her visit, Google announced it would inaugurate a new engineering space in Belo Horizonte in November that will more than double the number of engineers working in Brazil on some of the company's core products.

Rousseff began her day with a breakfast with University of California President Janet Napolitano, also the former U.S. secretary of homeland security. She then met with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who showed off one of the company's self-driving cars before sending her on a test drive.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff waves before taking a ride in a self-driving car at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, July 1, 2015.Beck Diefenbach

Her California visit coincided with a new low in her national polling numbers. Her popularity has been hit by a massive corruption scandal at state-run oil firm Petrobras (PETR4.SA) and an economy that is heading towards recession. The number of Brazilians considering Rousseff's government "great" or "good" dropped to just 9 percent, according to the Ibope opinion poll commissioned by the National Industry Confederation, or CNI.

At a press briefing at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, Rousseff said her U.S. trip had been productive but declined to comment on her poll numbers.

Presidente Dilma Rousseff fala em sede do Google em Mountain View. 1/7/2015.Beck Diefenbach

Rousseff also attended a lunch with top Silicon Valley executives from Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Facebook Inc (FB.O), Amazon Inc (AMZN.O), Cisco Inc (CSCO.O) and PayPal. Brazil is the second-largest market by users after the United States for Google and Facebook.

Earlier in the week, Rousseff met with U.S. President Barack Obama, and agreed to a series of steps to ease trade. She said "things have changed" since October 2013, when she cancelled an official state visit after revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the United States had spied on her.

(This version corrects to remove reference to Brazil being second-largest market for Apple)

Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Bernard Orr

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