Top Obama aides fly to Berlin to talk about spying allegations

McClatchy Washington BureauJuly 22, 2014 


Demonstrators in Berlin, Germany, protest against the data gathering by the United States and the NSA, July 3, 2013.


Two weeks after Germany demanded that the top U.S. intelligence official stationed in its country leave, President Barack Obama has dispatched two top aides to Berlin.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security, met with their German counterparts in Berlin Tuesday “for intensive talks on the state of bilateral relations and future cooperation,” according to the White House.

The meeting came after German authorities said they were investigating new instances of spying, including one that targeted the parliamentary committee probing National Security Agency eavesdropping. Last year, reports indicated that the NSA was monitoring the communications of millions of Germans, including listening in on Merkel’s cellphone.

U.S. officials, including Obama, have tried to assuage growing German anger, particularly after the revelation that the NSA had been intercepting Merkel’s cellphone for years. In January, Obama even issued a statement saying that “we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the meeting was the result of a telephone conversation between Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The full range of issues was addressed, including intelligence and security matters,” he said.

Earnest declined to say whether McDonough and Monaco took with them any specific information or answers for the Germans on these latest allegations of U.S. spies in Germany.

“I'm not going to get into the substance of the talk. I would describe the talks as productive and a useful trip,” he said. “It is the view of the United States that differences of opinion or differences of perspective on these kinds of matters are best resolved through established diplomatic and intelligence channels and that's exactly what we're doing.”

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