By Justin Sink - 06/04/14 11:14 AM EDT
Germans should engage in "direct dialogue" with the U.S. if they have concerns over the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone, the White House said Wednesday amid reports Germany's federal prosecutor was launching an investigation into the spy craft.
Rhodes said such discussions were "the best way for us to build trust" over U.S. top-secret surveillance programs.
Earlier Tuesday, German federal prosecutor Harald Range announced he had taken the steps following an "extensive preliminary investigation."
In a statement, Range said he had "established that sufficient factual evidence exists that unknown members of U.S. intelligence services spied on the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
He also said he would continue to monitor the "possible massive collection of telecommunications data of German citizens by British and American intelligence services."
U.S. efforts to monitor Merkel's personal cellphone were first revealed in documents disclosed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. The administration has not acknowledged that the spying occurred, but pledged that it was not currently and would not in the future target Merkel or the leaders of other close allies.
During a joint press conference last month at the White House, Merkel said the "situation is such that we have a few difficulties yet to overcome" but that she believed the U.S. was willing to hear out her concerns.
"It’s very good that we have taken these first steps, and what’s still dividing us, for instance, is issues of proportionality and the like,” she added. “We will work on this, and it’s going to be on the agenda for the next few weeks to come."
Obama acknowledged the countries were "not perfectly aligned yet."
“This is something that is deeply important to me,” he said.