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US, Germany to discuss surveillance

Barack Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a top-level meeting of security officials in the coming days to discuss in greater detail reports of surveillance activities by the US National Security Agency.

The White House said the two leaders discussed by telephone reports last week that the NSA bugged European Union offices in Washington, New York and Brussels.

The revelations were attributed in part to information supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has admitting revealing key details of US surveillance activities.

While travelling in Africa last week, President Obama hit back against objections from key allies over a report in the German weekly Der Spiegel that the US had installed listening devices in EU offices, suggesting that such activity by governments is not unusual.

Mr Obama has said the administration will evaluate the claims in the report and inform US allies about the allegations. He assured Mrs Merkel during the conversation that the US takes seriously the concerns of its European allies and partners.

The White House said the leaders also looked forward to the initiation of a US-EU/EU member state dialogue, which could begin as early as next week, on the collection and oversight of intelligence and questions of privacy and data protection.

During the call, Mrs Merkel also offered her condolences over the deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona.

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