Merkel envoys at White House to sort out U.S.-German tensions

Reuters

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - American and German officialssought to overcome tension between their governments onWednesday following reports that the U.S. National SecurityAgency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

A meeting between White House national security adviserSusan Rice and her German counterpart came a week after aninfuriated Merkel complained to President Barack Obama aboutaccusations that the United States had for years beeneavesdropping on her.

Obama, in response to the diplomatic outcry that grew out ofthe reports, is considering a ban on U.S. eavesdropping onleaders of allied nations, senior administration officials say.

German's national security adviser, Christoph Heusgen, andthe German chancellery intelligence coordinator, Guenter Heiss,sat down with Rice and Obama's homeland security adviser, LisaMonaco, at the White House.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSADeputy Director Chris Inglis also participated.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the meeting was"part of our efforts to resolve some of the tension that hasarisen out of some reports about surveillance activitiesreportedly being conducted by the U.S."

Obama is under pressure to reassure allies about the scopeand scale of American intelligence gathering. The White Househas promised that U.S. officials are not and will not in thefuture eavesdrop on Merkel's communications.

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House NationalSecurity Council, said the meeting was an attempt to intensifyand strengthen cooperation between U.S. and German intelligenceservices.

"Today's discussions were an opportunity to hear from oneanother and jointly determine how the dialogue can best proceedin order to provide the necessary assurance and strengthen ourcooperation," she said.

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