Saturday Feb 01, 201402:04 AM GMT
US spying issue won’t go away overnight: Merkel
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel accompanied by her spokesman Steffen Seibert (R) walk together before a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on January 31, 2014.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel accompanied by her spokesman Steffen Seibert (R) walk together before a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on January 31, 2014.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the differences between her country and the United States over the National Security Agency (NSA)’s spying activities will not be resolved overnight.

Merkel made the remarks ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin on Friday.

"We will also discuss the NSA's activities and the cooperation of our secret services. We address such issues openly even if there are differences of opinion and such will be the case today. Surely not all the differences will be solved,” she said.

Earlier in the day, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the NSA’s spying activities have damaged relations between Washington and its European allies.

De Maiziere made the remarks at the Munich Security Conference, which was held in the German city of Munich.

He also said Germany will continue to press the US to ensure the privacy of its citizens.

Relations between Washington and Berlin soured in the wake of revelations that the NSA had spied on the German chancellor.

Addressing the German parliament on Wednesday, Merkel strongly criticized the US and Britain for mass spying programs revealed by the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

She said countries which spy on their allies risk destroying trust, resulting in less rather than more security.

"Actions in which the ends justify the means, in which everything that is technically possible is done, violate trust, they sow distrust," she said, noting that the "end result is not more security but less."

Last month, Philipp Missfelder, the foreign policy spokesman for Merkel's center-right party, said revelations that the NSA spied on German officials, including Merkel, have broken trust between the two countries.

"We can see that we are not seen as loyal friends anymore, rather we are confronted with a great deal of mistrust," Missfelder said, adding, "I am not saying we are on a level with countries that are outside of NATO, but there has been a qualitative change, at least from the American side."

In October 2013, Snowden leaked top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries and their leaders, which included bugging Chancellor Merkel’s cellphone for a decade.

The revelations prompted Brazil and Germany to draft a United Nations General Assembly resolution aimed at restraining the NSA’s surveillance programs against other nations.

GJH/MHB/MAM

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