WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama spoke to France's President Francois Hollande Monday as a row raged between the long-time allies over claims a US spy agency eavesdropped on millions of phone calls of French citizens.
The damage control operation came as the White House complained that some allegations of US activities carried in the French press were "distorted."
"The President and President Hollande discussed recent disclosures in the press - some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed," a White House statement said.
"The President made clear that the United States has begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.
"The two Presidents agreed that we should continue to discuss these issues in diplomatic channels moving forward," the statement said.
A statement in Paris quoted Hollande as telling Obama of France's "deep disapproval" of US spying.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault earlier said he was "deeply shocked" by reports that the US National Security Agency had secretly monitored tens of millions of phone conversations within France and demanded an explanation.
The US ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Paris over the claims, based on leaks from fugitive US ex-security analyst Edward Snowden and published by Le Monde and the German weekly Der Spiegel.