Merkel doubts US will stop spying on Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn’t think Washington will stop spying on her country, despite the high-profile diplomatic flap over allegations the U.S. had recruited two Germans to sell secrets.

"I think it's not that easy to convince the Americans ... to completely change the way their intelligence services work,” Merkel said in an interview with ZDF translated by the Associated Press. 

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Merkel indicated she wasn’t optimistic that pleas from the German government for the U.S. to change its behavior would have much of an impact.

"I can't predict that, but certainly hope it will change."

On Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest appeared to indicate the U.S. believed the alleged spying between the allies was par for the course in comments to reporters.

“Allies with sophisticated intelligence agencies like the United States and Germany understand with some degree of detail exactly what those intelligence relationships and activities entail,” Earnest said. “Any differences that we have are most effectively resolved through established private channels, not through the media. These private channels include regular discussions between intelligence officials, diplomatic officials, and national security officials from those two countries. So pursuing that dialogue through those channels is exactly what we’re doing.”

On Friday, Bloomberg reported that the Obama administration had offered Germany a deal similar to the one the United States has with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom that would have limited U.S. intelligence activities within the country. The offer was apparently a last-ditch bid to prevent the expulsion of the CIA station chief from Germany, which was demanded by Merkel after the revelations about alleged spying. 

“We remain open to discussions with our close allies and partners, including Germany, about how we can better coordinate our intelligence efforts,” National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

But Germany reportedly turned down the deal because it would have required a greater investment in its intelligence services.

The incident has threatened to further strain the relationship with Merkel, who expressed outrage after documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed her personal cell phone had been targeted for monitoring.

 

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