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Obama assures French leader Hollande over NSA spying reports

President Barack Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande on Monday about press reports disclosing alleged large-scale American spying on French citizens, the White House said in a statement.

The two leaders spoke hours after the French government summoned the U.S. ambassador in Paris to demand an explanation over the reports, which said 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between Dec 10, 2012 and Jan 8, 2013.

French interior minister, Manuel Valls, described the report as "shocking."

"The president and President Hollande discussed recent disclosures in the press - some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed," the White House said Monday.

"The president (Obama) made clear that the United States has begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share."

The two men agreed that their countries should continue to discuss the issue through diplomatic channels, it said.

Secretary of State John Kerry was in Paris on a pre-arranged trip Monday. He said at a press conference this afternoon that the U.S. was working to "protect the security of our citizens," which he said in today's world was "very complicated, very challenging task."

Earlier Monday, the Mexican government said Monday it was sending a diplomatic note to the U.S. demanding an investigation into reports of NSA spying against Mexican government officials.

A statement released by the Mexican Embassy in Washington noted that President Obama made a commitment during a recent meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto "to conduct an exhaustive investigation" of alleged NSA spying in Mexico.

 "The Government of Mexico will soon send a diplomatic note reiterating how important it is to our country that the aforementioned investigation be concluded promptly," the statement reads. "In a relationship between neighbors and partners there is no place for the practices which are alleged to have taken place."

The statement was prompted by a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel Sunday that, according to documents leaked by ex-contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA hacked into the email account of then Mexican President Felipe Calderon as part of an extensive agency eavesdropping operation in that country.

Michael Isikoff and Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report. 

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