Angela Merkel fails to win no-spying deal from Obama in White House visit

Obama refuses to offer visiting German chancellor guarantee against surveillance

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 May, 2014, 6:45am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 May, 2014, 6:45am


US President Barack Obama ruled out a "no-spy agreement" with any country when he met German leader Angela Merkel, herself a target of American spying, at the White House.

He also acknowledged the United States had not reached a deal with Germany to limit US surveillance on its territory and vice versa.

"There are still some gaps that need to be worked through," Obama said at a news conference with the German chancellor.

Merkel characterised those gaps as "differences of opinion" over "issues, for example, of proportionality and the like".

Germany's leading newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, has reported that German officials have pressed the United States for an agreement not to spy but have been rebuffed.

"We do not have a blanket no-spy agreement with any country," Obama said. "What we do have are a series of partnerships and procedures and processes that are built up between the various intelligence agencies."

The conflict between the two allies stems from revelations last year by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that exposed spying on Germany, including the monitoring of Merkel's personal mobile phone.

Obama, who met Merkel in the Oval Office, said his administration was committed to "a US-German cyber dialogue to close further the gaps that may exist in terms of how we operate" and "to make sure that there is transparency and clarity about what we're doing and what our goals and our intentions are".

The president sought to ease tensions with Germany, an essential ally in many of his foreign-policy goals, by reassuring Germans that they were not being targeted by an espionage dragnet.

Last month, Der Spiegel reported that NSA documents showed 300 references to Merkel in a database of targeted foreign leaders.

In recent weeks, a German lawmaker said Merkel had asked to see the fruits of the NSA's spying on her, but the request had been denied by US officials, according to a representative for the German Interior Ministry.

American officials declined to comment.