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US, Germany to engage in cyber-dialogue over surveillance

PTI | Last Updated: Saturday, May 3, 2014 - 04:51

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Friday said America and Germany will engage in a cyber-dialogue to sort out differences over NSA`s controversial surveillance programme, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded few difficult issues remain to be addressed.

Leaked documents by Edward Snowden, an ex-National Security Agency (NSA) systems analyst contractor, had shown that the US allegedly indulged in phone and internet tapping of foreign leaders, including Merkel - that caused an uproar in Germany.

"I think the whole debate... Has shown that the situation is such that we have a few difficulties yet to overcome. So this is why there`s going to be this cyber-dialogue between our two countries, and this is also why there needs to be and will have to be more than just business as usual," Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference with US President Obama.
"Looking at the discussion not only in the German Parliament, but also among members of the German government and also in the German public, we need to do that. But it`s very good that we have taken these first steps, and what`s still dividing us, issues, for example, of proportionality and the like, will be addressed.

"We will work on this, and it`s going to be on the agenda for the next two weeks to come," she said in response to a question.

Obama said: "What I`ve pledged to Chancellor Merkel has been, in addition to the reforms that we`ve already taken, in addition to saying that we are going to apply privacy standards to how we deal with non-US persons as well as US persons, in addition to the work that we`re doing to constrain the potential use of bulk data, we are committed to a US- German cyber-dialogue to close further the gaps that may exist in terms of how we operate, how German intelligence operates, to make sure that there is transparency and clarity about what we`re doing and what our goals and our intentions are."

He asserted that their focus is principally and primarily on how do they make sure that terrorists, those who want to proliferate weapons, transnational criminals are not able to engage in the activities that they are engaging in.

"We can only be successful if we`re partnering with friends like Germany. We won`t succeed if we`re doing that on our own," he said in response to a question.
Describing Merkel is one of his closest friends on the world stage and somebody whose partnership he deeply values, Obama said it has pained him to see the degree to which the Snowden disclosures have created strains in the relationship.

"But more broadly, I`ve also been convinced for a very long time that it is important for our legal structures and our policy structures to catch up with rapidly advancing technologies. And as a consequence, through a series of steps, what we`ve tried to do is reform what we do and have taken these issues very seriously. Domestically, we`ve tried to provide additional assurances to the American people that their privacy is protected," he said.

First Published: Saturday, May 3, 2014 - 04:51

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