US Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Germany to discuss privacy concerns after the NSA spying scandal damaged relations between the two allies, Germany said Wednesday.
German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told journalists in Washington that Holder has accepted an invitation from Berlin to explain how the US would curb spying on foreign nationals overseas.
“We will have this discussion together in Germany,” he said.
The US Justice Department did not immediately confirm the trip and de Maiziere said that Holder’s visit would not take place “before the summer recess.”
In a speech in January, US President Barack Obama said he had taken “the unprecedented step of extending certain protections that we have for the American people to people overseas.”
Obama directed the intelligence community and Holder to develop “safeguards” for the privacy of foreign citizens.
After meeting Holder on Wednesday, de Maiziere said details are still scarce, stressing that “no decision” has been made in Washington on what restrictions would apply to spying overseas.
But he welcomed plans to end the NSA practice of scooping up metadata from US telecoms companies, which will also apply to foreign citizens if their communications is routed through the US.
“It’s going to be a long path, but I see some progress,” he said.
Germans were outraged the revelations last year by rogue intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, of the vast surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA).
When the reports showed that US spies were even eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, the anger spread to the leadership of one of Washington’s main European allies.
Merkel admitted during a visit to White House earlier this month that differences on this issue remained.
But both governments appear to want to overcome the diplomatic row, despite Washington’s rejection of a legally binding no-spy agreement with Germany.
Germany and the US agreed to engage in a “cyber dialogue” to address their disagreements over intelligence gathering and data protection, with a first round of talks scheduled for late June.
Copyright (2014) AFP. All rights reserved.
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