U.S. says spy charges cause 'moment of tension' with allies


WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The United States said onFriday allegations that U.S. intelligence agencies tapped themobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others inFrance and Italy have "posed a moment of tension" with someallies and should not undermine cooperation on such issues asSyria and Iran.

"There is no question that the disclosure of classifiedinformation has posed a moment of tensions with some of ourallies," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

"We are having discussions with those allies," she saidreferring to a visit next week by German intelligence chiefs toWashington to seek answers.

She said Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the accusations, based on allegations by fugitive ex-U.S.intelligence operative Edward Snowden, with officials in Franceand Italy during a recent visit to Europe.

Psaki said the leaks about U.S. intelligence activities had"created significant challenges in our relationships" withallied nations and a "public distraction."

"He (Kerry) certainly recognizes that as we look to pursue arange of diplomatic priorities, whether that is working onglobal issues like Syria, or Iran, or (trade negotiations), itwill really be a mistake to let these disclosures get in the wayof that," Psaki said.

Merkel has demanded that President Barack Obama address theissue following the accusations that the U.S. National SecurityAgency accessed tens of thousands of French phone records aswell as monitoring her private phone.

Berlin plans to send officials from its intelligence agencyBND to Washington, while members of the European Parliament havesaid they will fly to the United States on Monday to explore"possible legal remedies for EU citizens."

Washington is currently working closely with European allieson a host of pressing global issues, including negotiations toend a dispute with Iran over its nuclear program and bringingtogether warring parties for a peace conference in Syria.

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