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US and Germany look to rebuild trust

Published: 30 Oct 2013 09:01 GMT+01:00

German political and intelligence envoys are due to hold talks with US officials in Washington on Wednesday on rebuilding a "basis of trust" after alleged US tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

As spy claims ricocheted across the Atlantic in an espionage row that has rattled US-European ties, two high-ranking Berlin officials will seek answers and fresh rules on intelligence cooperation, Merkel's spokesman said.

Confirming Wednesday's meeting, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters the talks were aimed at clarifying the allegations and working out "a new basis of trust and new regulation for our cooperation in this area."

"We are in a process of intensive contacts with US partners both at the intelligence as well as the political level," he said.

America's allies in Europe have protested after media reports, based on leaks from fugitive US analyst Edward Snowden, that Washington collected tens of millions of European telephone calls and online communications as part of anti-terror operations.

Merkel's foreign policy adviser Christoph Heusgen and the secret service coordinator Günter Heiß will take part in Wednesday's talks, Seibert said.

US officials said National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and counter-terrorism advisor Lisa Monaco would meet the Germans.The Germans will be trying to get some clarity from the Americans about the scale of the NSA spying programme in Europe and to what extent Merkel’s communications were being tapped.

Talks could also start on a bilateral agreement to stop spying on ally governments and heads of state.

The two countries are also expected to focus on ways in which their spy agencies can work together.

READ MORE: Merkel has two phones, just one encrypted

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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