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EU seeks new rules on spying

Updated: 2013-10-26 07:54
By Agencies in Brussels ( China Daily)

Alliance can only be built on trust, Chancellor Merkel says

Senior German officials will travel to the US "shortly" to talk with the White House and the National Security Agency about spying allegations, including how Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone was allegedly monitored by the NSA.

Government spokesman Georg Streiter said on Friday that the heads of Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence agencies would participate in the talks. He did not give a specific date for the trip, saying it was being arranged on "relatively short notice."

France and Germany pushed on Friday for Washington to agree on new rules on espionage after damaging revelations that the United States tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone and spied on other allies.

Paris and Berlin will "seek bilateral talks with the US" to reach an understanding by the end of the year on the conduct of intelligence gathering among allies, EU President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters after a first day of EU summit talks.

Van Rompuy said other countries could join if they wished.

In a statement, the 28 EU leaders "underlined the close relationship between Europe and the US and the value of that partnership".

This partnership "must be based on respect and trust", including with respect to the work and cooperation of secret services, the Europeans stressed.

Merkel first raised the possibility of a "no-spying" agreement with Obama during a visit to Berlin in June, but nothing came of it. The latest revelations, part of the vast leaks made by former US data analyst Edward Snowden, would appear to have renewed her determination for a pact.

Britain has long-established intelligence ties with the United States, but questioned on London's role, Van Rompuy stressed that all leaders had agreed on the text.

Britain "of course has a special relationship (with the US) ... but they are completely on board with this text", he added.

The United States has a "no-spying" deal with Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, an alliance known as "Five Eyes" that was struck in the aftermath of World War II.

But there has traditionally been a reluctance to make similar arrangements with other allies, despite the close relations that the US and Germany now enjoy.

"We need trust among allies and partners," Merkel said in Brussels. "Such trust now has to be built anew. This is what we have to think about."

"The United States and Europe face common challenges. We are allies. But such an alliance can only be built on trust. That's why I repeat again: spying among friends, that cannot be."

Echoing Merkel, Austria's Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, said, "We need to re-establish with the US a relationship of trust, which has certainly suffered from this."

The summit was meant to discuss boosting employment and the digital economy but was quickly overtaken by the growing scandal which has embroiled US President Barack Obama in embarrassing exchanges with key allies - from France and Germany to Brazil and Mexico.

Code of conduct urged

French President Francois Hollande and Merkel called Obama earlier this week demanding clarification of claims that the NSA had spied on millions of French phone calls and on the German leader personally.

Hollande called for a code of conduct, recalling that the EU had set up a special unit to review the issue after leaks by fugitive former US intelligence contractor Snowden earlier this year.

These experts have to "accelerate their work with our American allies", Hollande said, because "this is a subject which is not going away".

Meanwhile, an adviser to President Obama acknowledged that US surveillance had created "significant" challenges with its allies.

"Although we collect the same sort of intelligence as all nations, our intelligence community has more restrictions and oversight than in any other country in history," Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president on homeland security and counterterrorism, wrote in an opinion article in US daily USA Today.

Recent disclosures "have created significant challenges in our relationships with some of our closest foreign partners," Monaco said.

AFP-Reuters-AP

EU seeks new rules on spying

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with France's President Francois Hollande at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels on Thursday. The two-day Brussels summit, called to tackle a range of social and economic issues, is now overshadowed by debate on how to respond to the alleged espionage by Washington against two of its closest European Union allies. Yves Herman / Reuters

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