US, Germany to sign 'no-spy deal'

Accord set to be concluded next year, report says

Germany and the United States are to strike a two-way deal not to spy on each other following the diplomatic furor sparked by the Edward Snowden revelations, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.

A delegation of German chancellery and intelligence officials reached the deal during talks at the White House this week, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported.

The accord is set to be concluded early next year, it said, citing sources close to the German government.

Contacted by AFP, a government spokeswoman declined to comment.

Separately, German weekly Der Spiegel also reported that a deal between the two sides was being discussed.

In a report, the weekly said Germany and the United States have agreed to not carry out industrial espionage on each other.

Der Spiegel also said that Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, had acknowledged the tapping of Merkel's cellphone in the past.

During a meeting with Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein, Alexander had been asked if Washington was listening in to Merkel's calls. In reply, he had said that was no longer the case, Der Spiegel said, citing unnamed participants at the meeting.

Spy claims have been ricocheting across the Atlantic in a row that has frazzled ties between US and European allies. Top German envoys were in Washington on Wednesday to rebuild a "basis of trust" after alleged US tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone in sweeping surveillance operations that have outraged Europe.

Merkel's spokesman said the talks were aimed at clarifying the allegations and working out "a new basis of trust and new regulation for our cooperation in this area".

The chancellor's foreign policy adviser Christoph Heusgen and intelligence coordinator Guenter Heiss met top US officials, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco.

According to the FAS report, the head of Germany's secret service is now to hold a top-level meeting with US intelligence chiefs on Monday in Washington.

Europe monitors phones, internet

Spy agencies across Western Europe are working together on mass surveillance of Internet and phone traffic comparable to programs run by their US counterpart denounced by European governments, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday.

Citing documents leaked by fugitive former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the Guardian said methods included tapping into fiber optic cables and working covertly with private telecommunications companies.

The Guardian named Germany, France, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands as countries where intelligence agencies had been developing such methods in cooperation with counterparts, including Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ.

Germany and France have been the most vocal in protesting about US mass surveillance of European communication networks.

Germany, jointly with Brazil, circulated a draft resolution to a UN General Assembly committee on Friday that called for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, data collection and other gross invasions of privacy.