Obama seeks to ease Germany's concerns on spying


Associated Press

President Barack Obama sought to allay German concerns Tuesday over allegations of espionage, pledging to work to improve cooperation during his first conversation with Germany's leader since two Germans were revealed to have spied on their country for the United States.

Seeking to play down the growing rift, the White House said only that Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had "exchanged views on U.S.-German intelligence cooperation" and that Obama had said he'd stay in close touch about intelligence cooperation going forward. The White House said the rest of the call focused on other global conflicts in Ukraine and Iran.

Still, the call comes amid fresh strains in an espionage dispute that reached a new low last week when Germany demanded that the CIA station chief in Berlin leave the country. That move followed published accounts alleging that American intelligence recruited two Germans to spy for Washington: a man who worked at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, and a defense ministry employee.

The last known conversation between Obama and Merkel was on July 3, but that call took place before German officials had arrested the first alleged U.S. spy, and the White House said the issue didn't come up.

Outrage has been growing in Germany since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed last year that the U.S. had eavesdropped on Merkel's cellphone calls. Obama vowed to end that practice, but a broader "no-spy" agreement sought by many Germans didn't pan out.

The White House has refused to address the substance of the allegations publicly, and has generally brushed off the matter as standard intelligence procedures. Emphasizing the importance of close U.S.-German ties, White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said countries like Germany know that other nations spy, and has suggested Germany should stop litigating the dispute in the media.

That approach hasn't played well in Germany, a country that prizes the sanctity of personal information and bears deep suspicion of government intrusion, given its history of Nazi-era abuses.

In their conversation, Obama and Merkel also agreed that Russia hasn't taken the steps to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis that the global community has demanded to spare Russia from further economic sanctions. The White House said the two leaders committed to working together "to ensure that Europe and the United States remain closely coordinated" on sanctions — an increasingly elusive goal as the U.S. contemplates levying tougher sanctions unilaterally in the face of European reluctance.

The White House long has preferred to levy punishments on Russia in concert with the European Union for maximum effect. But European countries have been reluctant to take tougher action out of fear of damaging their own economies, and the delay in making good on its warnings to Moscow has raised tough questions about the sincerity of Obama's threats to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Read more Technology stories from the Miami Herald

  • Ultra high definition TVs boost LG Display profit

    LG Display Co. said profit for the April-June quarter more than doubled as a stronger won reduced the value of its foreign debt and the World Cup boosted demand for ultra-high-definition TVs.

  • Gadgets: Samsung Galaxy Tab S features appeal to Apple user

    When a brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab S arrives on the doorstep, I'd imagine most people would tear it open like the Christmas present you have been salivating over. In my case it took me almost 2 weeks to open it but it only took about 2 seconds to find two great features. Over the next few days I found many more and in case you are wondering, the first two features were a back button and the ability to turn off all your running apps at once.

  • New rocket fuel to launch Purdue spacecraft

    A group of Purdue University students is moving ahead with a project to design and build a spacecraft that will be launched by a new, more environmentally friendly rocket propellant.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category