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Merkel seeks 'sensible' spy talks with U.S.

| Friday, July 18, 2014, 8:15 p.m.
AFP/Getty Images
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a press conference on July 18, 2014 at a press conference house in Berlin. Merkel called Friday for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine to permit a probe into the downing of a passenger plane in the rebel-held east of the country. AFP PHOTO / CLEMENS BILANCLEMENS BILAN/AFP/Getty Images

BERLIN — Germany wants “sensible talks” with the United States on the two countries' spat over alleged American spying, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday, indicating that Berlin is still aiming for a formal accord.

Washington has dismissed the idea of a “no-spy” agreement demanded by Germany since reports last year that the National Security Agency was conducting mass surveillance of German citizens — and eavesdropping on Merkel's cellphone. The discovery of two alleged U.S. spies in Germany this month further stoked German anger, prompting Merkel to demand the departure of the CIA station chief in Berlin.

“Trust can only be restored through talks and certain agreements,” Merkel said in her first lengthy news conference since the two spy cases were revealed. “We will seek out such talks, though I can't announce anything concrete right now.”

She said she doesn't expect “quick agreements.”

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany where state surveillance was a fact of life, said her administration and that of President Obama have “different positions on what's needed to guarantee security and at the same time protect personal data.”

While the Obama administration has remained largely silent, American commentators have defended the need to spy on even close allies such as Germany, citing the country's close links to Russia and fact that several members of the 9/11 terror cell lived in Hamburg before the attacks.

Despite the spy row, Merkel insisted that Germany and the U.S. remain close partners “and nothing about this will change.”

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