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Europe seeks parallel talks on trade, spying

Sylvie Corbet and Geir Moulson, Associated Press

French President Francois Hollande gestures while speaking during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, June 28, 2013. After late night budget talks, European Union leaders are turning their attention away from their financial troubles Friday and toward embracing once-troubled Balkan countries. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

BERLIN (AP) -- European countries agree that talks on a free-trade deal with the United States should be held only in parallel with discussions about NSA surveillance — addressing concerns raised by France.

France wants the talks on trade to start only when the U.S. also discusses intelligence issues.

That raises questions whether the launch of the trade talks will go ahead as originally scheduled next week.

European Union leaders at a meeting Wednesday in Berlin supported the idea of parallel talks on surveillance, but didn't comment directly on their start date.

Top EU official Jose Manuel Barroso reaffirmed Europe's commitment to the trade talks.

He said the U.S. is ready to set up working groups to discuss intelligence issues "as soon as possible."