Friday, December 13, 2013
By John-thor Dahlburg
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media at the European Council building in Brussels Friday. European leaders united in anger Thursday as they attended a summit overshadowed by reports of widespread U.S. spying on its allies, allegations German Chancellor Angela Merkel said had shattered trust in the Obama administration and undermined the crucial trans-Atlantic relationship.
The Associated Press
The chancellor said intelligence chiefs from her country and France would hold separate one-on-one discussions with the Americans, but pool information.
As a first step, the heads of Germany’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies will participate in talks with the White House and the NSA, said German government spokesman Georg Streiter.
He did not give a specific date for the trip to Washington, saying it was being arranged on “relatively short notice.”
“What exactly is going to be regulated, how and in what form it will be negotiated and by whom, I cannot tell you right now,” Streiter told reporters. “But you will learn about it in the near future because we have created some pressure to do this speedily.”
The United States already has a written intelligence-sharing agreement with Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand known as “Five Eyes.” France and Germany may be interested in that program or a similar arrangement, but it is not clear the U.S. would agree to it.
A White House National Security Council spokeswoman said Friday the Germans would be welcome in the U.S. capital, but did not address what concessions the Obama administration might make to tamp down a controversy that has soured relations with many European allies.
“German officials plan to travel to Washington in coming weeks and the U.S. government looks forward to meeting with them,” said Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman. “We expect a range of meetings with relevant officials across the U.S. interagency, but we do not have specific meetings to announce at this point.”
As they ended their Brussels summit, European leaders vowed to maintain a strong partnership with the U.S. despite the widespread shock and anger over the alleged spying.
“The main thing is that we look to the future. The trans-Atlantic partnership was and is important,” said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose nation holds the rotating presidency of the 28-country European Union.
No European leader “wants to see a breach with the United States,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron, who unlike the leaders of Germany and France, has not objected publicly to the reported NSA actions.