Europeans want formal NSA talks

The leaders of France and Germany on Friday called for formal talks with the United States amid growing outrage over NSA spying, The New York Times reports.

The request follows revelations from Edward Snowden that the U.S. spy agency tapped into German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone and collected information on tens of millions of phone calls in France. 

The reports have prompted the European Parliament to recommend temporarily shutting down cooperation with the Treasury Department's Terrorist Finance Tracking Program and fueled calls for a suspension of talks of a trade deal between the United States and the European Union.

Merkel called on the United States to agree to a pact by the end of the year that would end the kind of surveillance revealed by Snowden, the Times reports. The NSA leaker, who has sought refuge in Russia, revealed Thursday that the NSA boasted as far back as 2006 of having tapped the phones of 35 unidentified world leaders.

The goal of the pact would be to “come to a common understanding of the services between the United States and Germany and France so that we put down a framework for cooperation,” Merkel told reporters in Brussels.

She went on to warn that “words will not be sufficient” and that the European Union wants assurances from the United States. The White House said this week that it is not currently spying on Merkel's phone but left open the possibility that such spying had occurred in the past.

“The most important thing at this juncture is to find a basis for the future,” Merkel said. “It’s become clear for the future that things have to change, and they have to change radically.”

U.S. lawmakers are expected to get an earful when EU parliamentarians descend on Washington next week to raise the issue. The parliament's civil liberties and foreign affairs panels are sending delegations to meet with their U.S. counterparts and other stakeholders.

“The NSA scandal was a wake-up call,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said Thursday in a speech to the European Council. “Now that there is evidence that EU embassies, European parliaments, European heads of government and citizens have been spied on by the USA on a grand scale, the European Parliament has called for the suspension of the TFTP Agreement. 

“We are calling for the exchange of bank data with the Americans to be temporarily suspended. The European Parliament will also safeguard the interests and fundamental rights of EU citizens at the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”

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