US President Barack Obama has given German Chancellor Angela Merkel his word that American surveillance activities will not get in the way of their relationship.
Relations between the two leaders have been strained by media reports – citing leaked intelligence documents – that Washington had been spying on European citizens and had bugged Merkel’s mobile phone.
“I don’t need and I don’t want to harm that relationship by a surveillance mechanism that somehow would impede the kind of communication and trust that we have,” Obama said in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF
“As long as I’m president of the United States, the Chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this,” the US President continued.
Obama said he and Merkel “may not always be of the same opinion on issues of foreign policy, but that is no reason to wiretap”.
The message to Merkel came a day after Obama gave a speech announcing a ban on US eavesdropping on the leaders of close allies.
It is among a series of reforms to the US National Security Agency (NSA) following leaks by former security contractor Edward Snowden which allege mass US surveillance of citizens at home and abroad.