German officials plan to travel to Washington in coming weeks after reports of broad spying by the United States, including the monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, confirmed the German travel plans on Friday and said that U.S. government officials look forward to the meeting.
A senior Obama administration official said that the spying reports would be among the topics of discussion.
The Guardian newspaper of Britain, citing classified documents leaked by the fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, reported that the United States monitored the phone calls of 35 world leaders.
On Wednesday, Merkel called President Barack Obama to demand answers. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said that Obama assured Merkel that the United States “is not monitoring and will not monitor her communications.”
He fell short of disclosing any past practices, and the German government did not appear satisfied. A spokesman for Merkel said that “she made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable.”
Reports about U.S. surveillance have generated anger around the world. France and Germany are insisting that the United States agree on new surveillance rules this year.
Laurent Dubrule / Reuters
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at a European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday.
Merkel herself told reporters: “We are seeking a basis for cooperation between our (intelligence) services, which we all need and from which we have all received a great deal of information ... that is transparent, that is clear and is in keeping with the character of being partners.”
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said that the U.S. fully expects “more allegations will surface, given the quantity of classified information leaked by Mr. Snowden.” She added later that she wasn’t talking about anything specific but that “we certainly expect that that is something that could happen in the weeks ahead.”
A spokesman for the German government said that the heads of the German foreign and domestic intelligence services would participate in the talks with Washington.
Ali Weinberg of NBC News contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.
Related: 'Absolutely not right': US slammed after reports NSA spied on German premier
First published October 25 2013, 11:35 AM