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EU leaders Merkel, Hollande call for ‘no spying’ agreement with U.S.

October 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called for a "no spying" agreement with the U.S. after reports that the NSA monitored and collected phone data from their countries. A State Department spokeswoman said the Obama administration is ready to discuss the issue. Kwame Holman reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There were fresh calls today in Europe for the U.S. to rethink its spying activities across the Atlantic.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman narrates our report.

KWAME HOLMAN: European leaders wound up a summit in Brussels demanding an end to U.S. eavesdropping on their people and themselves.

Revelations this week said cell phone calls by German Chancellor Angela Merkel were monitored by the National Security Agency, also, that thousands of French phone records were collected. Today, Merkel joined French President Francois Hollande in calling for a no-spying agreement with the U.S. by year’s end.

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpreter): I think the most important thing is to find a basis for the future on which we can operate. And trust needs to be rebuilt, which implies that trust has been severely shaken.

PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through interpreter): France and Germany will take an initiative. We make sure that between the various services, we cannot only clarify what happened in the past, but we can agree upon rules for the future.

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KWAME HOLMAN: The U.S. has similar agreements dating from World War II with Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

In Washington today, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Obama administration is ready to discuss the issue.

JEN PSAKI, State Department: We are happy to have those conversations and listen and hear from our partners around the world as they express their concerns. We cooperate with those countries and many other countries on counterterrorism operations. And we expect and are hopeful that that will continue.

KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, in USA Today, President Obama’s assistant for homeland security, Lisa Monaco, pointed to a review of U.S. intelligence-gathering commissioned by the president.

She wrote: “We want to ensure we are collecting information because we need it, and not just because we can.”

But there were also skeptical voices. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who’s on the intelligence committee, said much of the outrage from European leaders is for show.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-Fla.: These leaders are responding to domestic pressures in their own country. None of them are truly shocked about any of this. They’re aware of it because of my third point, and that is, everyone spies on everybody.

KWAME HOLMAN: Still, Germany is sending its top intelligence chiefs to Washington next week and members of the European Parliament will visit as well.