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Nation/World

July 3, 2013

Obama suggests spying on nations' allies is common

(Continued)

and suggested the widening controversy could jeopardize next week’s opening of trans-Atlantic trade talks between the United States and Europe.

“We cannot accept this kind of behavior from partners and allies,” Hollande said on French television.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin, “Eavesdropping on friends is unacceptable.” He declared, “We’re not in the Cold War anymore.”

Even before the latest disclosures, talks at the upcoming free-trade sessions were expected to be fragile, with disagreements surfacing over which items should be covered or excluded from an agreement. The United States has said there should be no exceptions. But France has called for exempting certain cultural products, and other Europeans do not appear eager to give up longtime agricultural subsidies.

Obama said the Europeans “are some of the closest allies that we have in the world.” But he added, “I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders. That’s how intelligence services operate.”

Nonetheless, Obama said he’d told his advisers to “evaluate everything that’s being claimed” and promised to share the results with allies.

Meanwhile, the Interfax news agency said a Russian consular official has confirmed that Snowden had asked for asylum in Russia.

Interfax cited Kim Shevchenko, the duty officer at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s consular office in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, as saying that Snowden’s representative, Sarah Harrison, handed over his request on Sunday.

Snowden, in legal limbo, is believed to have been in the airport’s transit zone since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23. The U.S. has annulled his passport, and Ecuador, where he has hoped to get asylum, has been giving off mixed signals about offering him shelter.

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