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Germany summons U.S. envoy over Merkel phone spy suspicion

Published: Updated:

Germany summoned on Thursday the U.S. ambassador to Berlin over suspicion that the United States spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone line.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will personally meet with U.S. envoy John B. Emerson later Thursday, reported Agence France-Presse.

“The American ambassador was summoned for talks with Foreign Minister Westerwelle this afternoon,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman was quoted as saying by AFP.

“The position of the German government will be presented clearly.”

The move comes a day after Merkel called President Barack Obama on Wednesday demanding answers after learning that U.S. spies may have monitored her phone.

A statement by the chancellor’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, says Merkel warned Obama warned this would constitute a “breach of trust” between the allies

“Among close friends and partners, as the Federal Republic of Germany and the U.S. have been for decades, there should be no such monitoring of the communications of a head of government,” the statement said, according to AFP.

“Such practices must be stopped immediately,” the German chancellor told Obama, the statement said.

But Obama on Wednesday assured Merkel that the United States is not monitoring her communications.

“The president assured the chancellor the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” White House Spokesman Jay Carney was quoted as saying by AFP on Wednesday.

However, the White House did not deny reports that U.S. spies eavesdropped on her cellphone in the past, according to AFP.

The latest revelations, based on information provided by former National Security Agency consultant Edward Snowden, came from Spiegel Online, whose parent magazine Der Spiegel reported many of the U.S. surveillance claims.

Spiegel Online said research by the news weekly had tipped the German government off to the potential surveillance, which authorities, including the German foreign intelligence service BND, had considered “sufficiently plausible"” for Berlin to confront Washington over, according to AFP.

The spying allegations are a threat to Obama’s close alliance with the German leader and make her the latest foreign leader to react to claims that their communications had been intercepted.

France’s President Francois Hollande on Monday confronted the U.S. in a call with Obama and expressed his disapproval of reports that the U.S. spied on French citizens.

France’s foreign minister on Monday also announced the summoning of the U.S. ambassador over a report that the U.S. National Security Agency had eavesdropped on millions of calls made by French citizens.

Paris-based newspaper Le Monde says that documents, leaked by whistleblower Snowden, showed that over 70 million French phone records were looked at in a 30-day period.

(With AFP)