WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday that revelations of U.S. surveillance on German Chancellor Angela Merkel “damaged impressions” Germans hold of the U.S. government.
Obama said during a joint news conference with Merkel at the White House that he has worked to restore the confidence of Germany and other global partners since former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden began leaking documents detailing the spying operations of the U.S. National Security Agency in 2013.
Snowden revealed that the intelligence agency had been eavesdropping on Merkel’s phone calls as far back as 2010.
“There is no doubt that the Snowden revelations damaged impressions of Germans with respect to the U.S. government and our intelligence cooperation,” Obama said.
Obama said he has been working to review such policies and create greater transparency.
Merkel did not take the opportunity to criticize U.S. surveillance, and applauded the U.S. intelligence agencies for their coordination with Germany in combating security threats.
“The institutions of the United States of America still continue to provide us with a lot of very significant information and we don’t want to do without this,” Merkel said through an English translator.
Obama said he thought Germans should give the United States the “benefit of the doubt” in light of the two countries’ recent history of cooperation.
Reporting by Julia Edwards; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham