BERLIN – The White House chief of staff and his German counterpart met Tuesday amid a serious rift over allegations of US spying.
Germany ordered the Berlin CIA station chief to leave the country on July 10 in an unprecedented show of anger after uncovering two cases of suspected US spying, hot on the heels of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose mobile phone was tapped by the NSA, last week spoke by telephone with US President Barack Obama with relations between the two allies at their most strained since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“Following the telephone conversation between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel last Tuesday, the chief of staff of the White House, (Denis) McDonough, and Chancellery Minister (Peter) Altmaier met today in Berlin for detailed discussions on the state of bilateral relations and future cooperation,” said a German government statement.
“The full range of topics was addressed, including issues of intelligence and security” at the meeting which also included Lisa Monaco, Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor, and Guenter Heiss, Merkel’s coordinator for intelligence services, the statement said.
It added that the two sides had agreed on “the establishment of a structured dialogue as a framework to discuss issues of mutual concern and to agree guidelines as the basis for current and future collaboration”.