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Germany reacts to Obama's spy reforms with skepticism

Updated: 2014-01-19 01:32
( Xinhua)

BERLIN - German politicians have reacted Saturday to US President Barack Obama's spying overhaul proposals with certain skepticism and insisted that Germany should further push for a no-spy agreement with the US.

Heiko Maas, German Justice Minister, told media that the president has "made first steps" with his plan to pull back some of the US surveillance programs. However, the lost trust could only be rebuilt by signing a legally binding agreement that protects the data of all citizens, he said.

Germany's future transatlantic coordinator, Philipp Missfelder, also voiced support for a German-US no-spy deal, saying Obama's planned reforms require a new legal basis which could be a very tough process.

Obama offered a series of changes to the National Security Agency (NSA)'s controversial surveillance practices on Friday, vowing to better protect privacy of foreign citizens and not to monitor the communications of heads of state and government of close friends and allies.

However, the president also stressed that the US intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about intentions of foreign governments.

Wolfgang Bosbach, chairman of the German parliament's committee for interior affairs, told media he has little hope that something will change in the US snooping practices. "I am afraid that Americans will continue to collect data, also from allies."

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert declared earlier that the government would analyze Obama's speech exactly.

Relations between Germany and the United States have been strained by revelations of US mass surveillance of online and phone data, including Merkel's mobile phone.

Both sides have agreed to negotiate an agreement not to spy on each other as a consequence of the spying scandal, which has caused widespread unease in Germany.

German media reported a few days ago that German-US talks on the no-spy deal were set to fail. However, both countries later brushed aside the report, saying their talks were still ongoing.

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