Germany to demand US commits publicly to end spying

Jul 12, 2014

Berlin to put espionage at top of agenda for meeting with Washington

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Berlin officials will demand that the US commits publicly to end spying in Germany, reports The Guardian.

Secretary of state Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet John Kerry in Vienna this weekend for talks about the Iranian nuclear programme. However, German diplomats say the espionage issue will be their top priority. "Everything is overshadowed by this," said one high-ranking German official. "This will be the lead item."

Washington has suggested that Germany is feigning naivety on the issue. "Countries with sophisticated intelligence agencies like both the United States and Germany understand what intelligence activities and relationships entail," said Barack Obama’s spokesman Josh Earnest. 

The White House has also encouraged Germany to keep discussions on espionage private. But German officials feel that domestic anger is so strong that the public will not be satisfied by anything short of a public commitment from Washington. "Dialogue in private is fine, but there must be something in public; people are so outraged," said one official.

The meeting will take place days after Germany ordered the CIA station chief to leave the country in the wake of fresh allegations of the US spying on Berlin. Announcing the expulsion, Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters: "Taking action was unavoidable, in my opinion. We need and expect a relationship based on trust."

The German government believes the US has previously bugged the phone calls of chancellor Angela Merkel.

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