25 Oct 2013

Germany, France want spying talks with US

4:16 pm on 25 October 2013

German chancellorAngela Merkel says France and Germany want to hold talks with the United States by the end of the year to settle a row over spying.

It has been alleged that Mrs Merkel's mobile phone and millions of French calls have been monitored by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and Mrs Merkel has taken up the matter with President Barack Obama.

She says that once the seeds of mistrust have been sown it makes co-operation on intelligence more difficult, and that sying between friends is unacceptable.

The row over alleged spying continues to overshadow a European Union summit in Brussels.

Speaking at the end of the first day of the talks, Mrs Merkel said France and Germany wanted to "create a framework" with the US on surveillance. She stressed that she wanted to look for a basis to move forward with Washington, and that she was looking for deeds not just apologetic words.

"It's become clear that for the future, something must change - and significantly," Mrs Merkel said.

"We will put all efforts into forging a joint understanding by the end of the year for the co-operation of the (intelligence) agencies between Germany and the US, and France and the US, to create a framework for the co-operation.''

Calls of '35 world leaders' bugged

Earlier on Thursday, a major British newspaper, the Guardian, reported that the NSA had monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders.

Citing classified documents leaked by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Guardian says staff in the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon were urged to share the contact details of foreign politicians with the agency.

"In one recent case, a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders," reads an excerpt from a confidential memo dated October 2006, which is quoted by the Guardian.

The identities of the politicians in question have been not revealed, and no immediate comment on the report was available from the NSA, but the revelations suggest that the bugging of world leaders could be more widespread than originally thought.

The White House has not denied the bugging, saying only that it would not happen in future.