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U.S., Germany to hold talks on surveillance programs


14:50, July 04, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on Wednesday to hold a high-level bilateral meeting over the broad U.S. surveillance programs that have sparked outcries in Europe and other parts of the world.

In their phone conversation, Obama assured Merkel that Washington "takes seriously the concerns of our European allies and partners," the White House said in a statement.

A Sunday report by German magazine Der Spiegel, citing classified documents disclosed by fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, said Washington was monitoring phone calls and Internet data connections in Germany as well as spying on the headquarters of the European Union and its offices in Washington and the United Nations in New York.

The EU and European countries have demanded an explanation, calling the moves "shocking" and "unacceptable." Obama had promised to supply all the information available.

In their phone talks, Obama and Merkel agreed to hold a high-level meeting of U.S. and German security officials in the coming days to discuss the matter "in greater detail," the White House said.

It said the two also looked forward to initiating a U.S.-EU/EU member state dialogue on the collection and oversight of intelligence and questions of privacy and data protection as early as July 8.

In addition, the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of continued close cooperation in the fight against terrorism and other threats to the security of the United States, Germany and their allies.

And they reiterated their "strong support" for the launch of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, a priority in Obama's second term, and welcomed the upcoming first round of negotiations to be held in Washington this month, the White House said.

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