Obama vows intelligence cooperation to Merkel

Updated: 2014-07-16 11:26


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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday for the first time since a new spy scandal dented relations between the two allies, and pledged to be in touch about ways to improve US-German intelligence cooperation.

The call followed a difficult period in US-German relations after Berlin told the CIA station chief last week to leave the country after officials unearthed two suspected US spies.

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Berlin said last week it had discovered a suspected US spy in the Defence Ministry. That came just days after a German foreign intelligence worker was arrested on suspicion of being a CIA informant and admitted passing documents to a US contact.

"The president and the chancellor ... exchanged views on US-German intelligence cooperation, and the president said he'd remain in close communication on ways to improve cooperation going forward," the statement said.

The phrase "exchanged views" may suggest the two leaders were far apart on how they see the issue.

Merkel has said spying on allies is a "waste of energy." The White House, while being circumspect in what it would confirm about CIA activity, has said the issue should be resolved through diplomatic channels and not through the media.

The United States and Germany are important partners on a host of global conflicts. Obama and Merkel also discussed the violence in Ukraine and talks with Iran about its nuclear program, the White House said.