By Julian Pecquet - 07/03/13 11:58 PM EDT
President Obama told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday that he takes European concerns about U.S. spying allegations “seriously” and agreed to a high-level meeting of security officials of both countries in the coming days, the White House said.
Revelations by NSA leaker Edward Snowden that the U.S. spy agency is monitoring foreigners' Internet use and has bugged the offices of the European Union and various embassies in Washington has created a furor overseas. The fallout has been particularly damaging in Germany, where citizens strongly value their privacy after being spied on by the decades by the East German security services.
Obama added that he welcomed the launch of a dialogue with the EU on the collection and oversight of intelligence and questions of privacy and data protection, as proposed by Attorney General Eric Holder, as early as Monday. The two leaders finally reiterated their “strong support” for the launch of trade talks that were scheduled to start Monday in Washington after France on Wednesday called for a two-week delay in the wake of Snowden's revelations.
Readout of the President’s Phone Call with Chancellor Merkel of Germany
President Obama spoke by phone today with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who offered condolences on the tragic deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona. The President and the Chancellor discussed the recent reports of surveillance activities allegedly conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency. The President assured the Chancellor that the United States takes seriously the concerns of our European allies and partners. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of continued close cooperation between our respective intelligence services in the fight against terrorism and other threats to the security of the United States, Germany, and our allies. The leaders agreed to hold a high-level meeting of U.S. and German security officials in the coming days to discuss these matters in greater detail. They also looked forward to the initiation of a U.S.-EU/EU Member State dialogue on the collection and oversight of intelligence and questions of privacy and data protection, as proposed by Attorney General Eric Holder, as early as July 8. Finally, the leaders reiterated their strong support for the launch of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations and welcomed the upcoming first round of discussions.
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