German spy chiefs to head to U.S. for spying talks

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German officials will travel to the U.S. “shortly” to discuss spying allegations with the White House and the National Security Agency, including claims that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone was monitored by the NSA.

Merkel said on Thursday that recent reports accusing the United States of spying on its allies has shattered trust between Washington and European leaders.

The U.S. National Security Agency has allegedly swept up more than 70 million phone records in France and may have tapped Merkel’s own mobile phone, according to the Associated Press.

German government spokesman Georg Streiter said Friday that leaders of Germany’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies would participate in the talks. He did not give a specific date for the trip, saying it was being arranged on “relatively short notice.”

At a summit Friday in Brussels, European Union leaders vowed to maintain a strong trans-Atlantic partnership despite their anger over allegations of widespread U.S. spying on allies.

“We need trust among allies and partners,” Merkel told reporters in Brussels, in statements carried by the Associated Press.
“Such trust now has to be built anew. This is what we have to think about.”

Merkel’s remarks on Thursday indicated that she was not appeased by a phone conversation she had Wednesday with Obama or his personal assurances that the U.S. is not listening in on her calls now.

British newspaper the Guardian said Thursday it obtained a confidential memo suggesting the NSA was able to monitor 35 world leaders’communications in 2006.

The memo said the NSA encouraged senior officials at the White House, Pentagon and other agencies to share their contacts so the spy agency could add foreign leaders’ phone numbers to its surveillance systems, the report said.

The Guardian did not identify who reportedly was eavesdropped on, but said the memo termed the payoff very meager: “Little reportable intelligence” was obtained, it said.

(With the Associated Press)

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