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Germany, US 'far apart' on NSA: Merkel

Updated: 2014-01-29 22:09
( Agencies)

Germany, US 'far apart' on NSA: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel chats with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as Labour Minister Andrea Nahles (L) stands by before a session at the German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin January 29, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - Berlin and Washington are still "far apart" in their views on the US National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance of Germany but they remain close allies, Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament on Wednesday.

In the first major policy speech of her third term, the conservative leader said nobody doubted that domestic and allied foreign intelligence agencies helped to protect the German people from terrorism and crime.

"But does that make it right for our closest allies, like the United States or Britain, to access all imaginable data - arguing that it helps their own security and that of their partners?" she said towards the end of a one-hour speech to the Bundestag.

"Can it be right that it's not just about defending against terrorist threats but also to gain advantage over their allies, for example, in negotiations at G20 summits or UN sessions?"

"Our answer can only be: 'No, that cannot be right'."

Merkel warned that ceding to the temptation to "do everything that is technically do-able" led to mistrust between allies which would eventually undermine their mutual security.

"Our views are today far apart," said Merkel, who has spoken with US President Barack Obama about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations of American and British surveillance of allies.

Obama told German TV earlier this month the two countries' close friendship must not be damaged "through surveillance measures that obstruct our trusting communication".

"As long as I am the President of the United States, the German Chancellor need not worry about that," Obama said one day after announcing US security reforms that banned eavesdropping on allied political leaders like the chancellor.

The NSA is likely to be on the agenda of Merkel's meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin on Friday.

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