President Barack Obama got a call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, and it wasn't to see how things were in Washington post-government shutdown.
Merkel rang Obama after receiving information that the National Security Agency may have spied on her communications, specifically on her private mobile phone, for years.
Merkel also made clear her expectation that US officials "provide an explanation about the possible extent of such surveillance practices, and thus answer questions that the German government already posed months ago," a spokesman for the chancellor told Der Spiegel.
The spokesman added that if the US did spy on the chancellor's phone, "This would be a grave breach of trust."
Past, present, future?
A statement posted on the White House website about the call between the heads of state read:
"The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel."
The statement reflects other assurances from White House Spokesman Jay Carney and the US National Security Council, but none addressed the past.
So don't worry, Ms. Merkel, the US isn't currently spying on your cell and won't in the future, but as for previous instances ... let's sidestep that one.
According to the White House statement, Obama and Merkel "agreed to intensify further the cooperation between our intelligence services" as a result of their conversation.
Germany wouldn't divulge how it received information that Merkel's communications were being monitored, but Der Spiegel said the call was spurred by its own research.
"After the information was examined by the country's foreign intelligence agency ... Berlin seems to have found their suspicions plausible enough to confront the US government," Der Spiegel wrote in its report.
The Merkel/Obama convo comes a day after James Clapper, US director of national intelligence, denied a report from Le Monde that the US intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France in the last 30 days.
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