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Germany, France give U.S. deadline on NSA spying on foreign leaders

| Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

BRUSSELS — Indignant at reports of U.S. electronic espionage overseas, the leaders of Germany and France said on Friday that they will insist the Obama administration agree by year's end to limits that could put a stop to alleged American eavesdropping on foreign leaders, businesses and innocent citizens.

German spy chiefs will travel to Washington shortly to talk with U.S. officials about the spying allegations that have so angered European leaders, including whether Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone was monitored by the National Security Agency.

Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, at the final day of a European Union summit in Brussels, did not offer many specifics on what they want President Obama and his intelligence chiefs to agree to.

A former French counterintelligence agent, however, told The Associated Press that the European allies are likely to demand the Americans sign off on a “code of good conduct” for intelligence gathering, and could use the espionage dispute as leverage against the United States in upcoming trade talks.

“I think France and Germany would want guidelines,” said Claude Moniquet, who directs the Brussels-based European Strategic and Intelligence Center. He doubted there would be much change in intelligence agencies' real-world behavior.

“Everyone swears on the Bible,” Moniquet said. “And after that it's business as usual.”

This week, there have been headlines in Europe about the NSA's scooping up millions of French phone records and perhaps listening in on Merkel's calls. A British newspaper reported that it obtained a confidential memo showing that the personal communications of up to 35 foreign leaders may have been subject to U.S. snooping in 2006.

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