4 July 2013, 11:53

EU ambassadors to agree common stand on US snooping program

США ЕС США Евросоюз флаг

EU ambassadors were to hold talks in Brussels Thursday to agree a common stance on allegations of US spying on European premises and embassies that have sparked outrage across the bloc.

The claims have threatened to derail long-awaited EU-US talks about a massive free trade deal, expected to boost both sides' economies by billions of dollars.

The row widened on Wednesday after Bolivia lashed out at France, Italy, Portugal and Spain for temporarily denying President Evo Morales's plane overflight rights over suspicions that intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was travelling with him.

France has already expressed its regret for its role in the incident, but in the Bolivian capital La Paz on Wednesday protesters were burning the French flag in the streets.

European countries have responded with alarm to revelations attributed to Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA), that the US was systematically seizing vast amounts of Internet and telephone data around the world.

France has already expressed its regret for its role in the incident, but in the Bolivian capital La Paz on Wednesday protesters were burning the French flag in the streets.

European countries have responded with alarm to revelations attributed to Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA), that the US was systematically seizing vast amounts of Internet and telephone data around the world.

The White House said they agreed to a "high-level meeting" between US and German security officials in the coming days to address intelligence matters, and that a US-EU dialogue on intelligence collection and data protection would begin as early as July 8.

The EU says establishing a Free Trade Agreement would add about 119 billion euros annually to the EU economy, and 95 billion euros for the United States.

Trade in goods between the United States and the EU last year was worth some 500 billion euros ($670 billion), with another 280 billion euros in services and trillions in investment flows.

Merkel speaks to Obama on concerns over US spying on allies

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with the U.S. president on Wednesday to address mounting European concerns about broad US spying and surveillance programs.

In a White House statement regarding the call, Washington stated that the United States takes seriously the concerns of their European allies and partners and that there would be a meeting with Germany in the coming days.

EU-US trade talks to open parallel to spying probe - Barroso

Free trade talks between the EU and US will open but run in tandem with working groups tasked with probing the extent of US spying, the head of the EU executive said Wednesday.

"We have agreed today the following: we are committed to the transatlantic partnership" but want working groups to analyse the impact of US surveillance practices, EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said after Berlin and Paris earlier differed on the response to the spy claims.

France urges for suspension of EU-US trade talks over spy claims

France is calling for the temporary suspension of talks on a huge EU-US free trade pact after allegations of widespread US spying on European offices, the government's spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"This is not about stopping negotiations on the free trade agreement, but it does seem wise to temporarily suspend them, probably for a period of 15 days, to avoid controversy and to give time to obtain the requested information," Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said after a cabinet session.

Voice of Russia, AFP

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