Spying leaks should not interrupt cooperation with Europe: US

Spying leaks should not interrupt cooperation with Europe: US

WASHINGTON - Hürriyet Daily News
Spying leaks should not interrupt cooperation with Europe: US

US Secretary of State John Kerry has discussed the issue with the president and the national security team, according to a State Department official. AFP photo

The U.S. administration is eager to continue discussing intelligence-gathering operations to alleviate the concerns of European leaders, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said as Brussels and Washington continue to trade spying accusations.

The most important thing is that these do not interrupt “all of the great work U.S. and Europe do together,” Psaki told a group of journalists hosted by the State Department as part of the Edward R. Murrow Journalism program on Oct. 30.

“These are programs, many of which have been around for a long time and many of which other countries also do,” she said. A German intelligence delegation and a separate group of EU lawmakers were in the U.S. capital to confront their American allies about the alleged bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

The visit coincided with the latest in a series of newspaper reports based on leaked National Security Agency (NSA) files, alleging that U.S. agents hacked into cables used by Google and Yahoo. The head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, repeated the administration’s argument that all countries spy on one another, and said the allies should discuss a new working relationship.

“I think this partnership with Europe is absolutely important,” he said. “But it has to do with everybody coming to the table and let’s put off all the sensationalism and say: ‘Is there a better way for our countries to work together?’”

“Working together to not only alleviate them but to strengthen our intelligence relationships is a big focus of ours right now,” Psaki said. “Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken not only with the president and national security team but he is eager to continue to discuss with our partners around the world because the most important thing here is that this doesn’t interrupt all of the great work we do work together on, which includes for the EU,” she said, citing issues like cooperation on counter terrorism, the Syrian crisis and possible diplomatic talks with Iran. “It would be a mistake in our view to interrupt that.”

Psaki also said it was important that President Barack Obama was conducting an internal and external review of intelligence-gathering programs and that both he and the State Department were open to discussions to alleviate the concerns.

Obama recently said he wanted to review the NSA’s operations to ensure privacy was protected. “What we’ve seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that’s why I’m initiating now a review to make sure that what they’re able to do, doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing,” the president said in a recent interview.