Brazil's President Rousseff to meet officials amid protests

BRASILIA (AFP) - Under pressure from popular demonstrations, Brazil's president was to meet Monday with protest leaders, governors and mayors to consider measures to improve public services and fight corruption.

"The meeting will take place this afternoon at the presidential palace," President Dilma Rousseff's office said in a statement.

In a televised address on Friday, a day after 1.2 million people protested against the high cost of next year's World Cup and demanded better services, Ms Rousseff said she was listening to "the voices of the streets". She offered a national plan to improve public services and step up the fight against corruption but warned that a repetition of the violence and vandalism that marred Thursday's nationwide demonstrations would not be tolerated.

State governors and mayors of the opposition Social Democratic Party have accepted the president's invitation but were first to meet among themselves to map out an agenda, press reports said.

"I want to go to the meeting with President Dilma to sign a pact between the Union, the federated states and the municipalities for a joint action to assist Brazilians," Goias State Governor Marconi Perillo said on his Twitter account.

The street protests, which began in Sao Paulo two weeks ago and initially focused on a hike in mass transit fares, have mushroomed into nationwide anger over the high cost of staging the 2014 World Cup, inadequate public health and education services, and rampant political corruption.

The protests coincide with the Confederations Cup tournament being held in six Brazilian host cities as a dry run for the World Cup.