German FM to meet Kerry to discuss spying claims

 

The Associated Press

Germany's foreign minister said Friday he will tell U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting this weekend that Berlin wants to reinvigorate the two countries' friendship "on an honest basis" after asking Washington's top spy to leave.

Thursday's decision to demand the departure of the intelligence representative at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin was "the right decision, a necessary step and an appropriate reaction to the breach of trust that has taken place," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin.

It followed reports over the past 10 days that U.S. intelligence had recruited two Germans — a man who worked at the country's foreign intelligence agency and a defense ministry employee. Steinmeier said those reports were "troubling."

They added to friction and frustration over reports last year that the U.S. was intercepting Internet traffic in Germany and eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone calls

Steinmeier said he will meet Kerry on the sidelines of talks in Vienna about Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. State Department confirmed that a bilateral meeting would take place.

There is "no alternative" to Germany's longstanding partnership with the United States in view of challenges in Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere, Steinmeier stressed. "That is why this cooperation must be marked not just by trust but by mutual respect."

"We want to reinvigorate our partnership, our friendship on an honest basis — we in any case are prepared to do that," he said. "And that will be the message I will give to my American colleague."

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany expects the unidentified American spy to leave the country "promptly."

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