German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a phone call with Barack Obama on Wednesday night that she believed the U.S. president took Germany’s concern over reported U.S. spying very seriously, and she hoped coming talks would bring answers.
Obama sought to allay the anger in Germany and other European allies in his call with Merkel, during which the chancellor said she made clear to him spying was not what she expected from countries considered friends.
They agreed to high level bilateral talks, in addition to planned talks between the European Union and the United States, to investigate reports that Washington spied on European allies.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich will travel to the United States at the end of next week, a spokesman said.
The reports came to light amid the imbroglio over former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of surveillance activities by Washington.
He is currently in limbo in a transit area of Moscow’s airport as the United States pressures Moscow to expel him home.
“I want to see the facts established,” Merkel said on Thursday during a press conference in Berlin. “I hope to gain information and draw important conclusions.”
She added: “I made clear spying on institutions within the European Union is not how we would expect those we consider friends to treat us. We are no longer in the Cold War.”
Her comments come at the same time as a poll, published by ARD-DeutschlandTrend, showing only 49 percent of Germans consider the Americans trustworthy partners in the wake of the row – a low not seen since the presidency of George W. Bush – and down from a previous level of 65 percent.
In a statement, the White House said Obama assured Merkel the United States took the concerns seriously and officials would discuss intelligence and privacy issues as early as July 8.