NSA Scandal: Kerry To Visit Berlin To Rebuild Trust

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US Secretary of State John Kerry and German Chancellor Angela Merkel: America's top diplomat is hoping to smooth out trans-Atlantic relations. Zoom
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US Secretary of State John Kerry and German Chancellor Angela Merkel: America's top diplomat is hoping to smooth out trans-Atlantic relations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry plans to visit Berlin on Friday in an attempt to repair the damage done by the NSA spying scandal. German officials aren't expecting any official apology, and the trip comes at a difficult time in trans-Atlantic ties.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry wants to step in personally to smooth out trans-Atlantic relations that have deteriorated as a result of the NSA spying scandal. A government spokesman confirmed that Kerry will visit Berlin during a trip to Germany on Friday.

Kerry is a scheduled speaker at the prestigious Munich Security Conference this weekend, but he plans to meet with his counterpart, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Friday. A meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also planned. Kerry is also expected to hold a press conference and answer questions from journalists.

Nevertheless, German diplomats are already warning against high expectations for the meeting. Already the way in which the visit has been planned suggests that the US government isn't giving the secretary of state's Germany visit its highest priority. American officials didn't alert their German counterparts of the details of when they could expect Kerry in Berlin until Wednesday.

Diplomats say they aren't expecting the secretary of state to provide any formal apology for spying by the NSA. Instead, the trip will address more general working issues. Hopes for a formal no-spy agreement between Germany and the United States have also largely vanished.

Kerry has been planning a visit to Germany for some time now, but he first wanted to wait until the new government had been formed in Berlin. Following the exposure of NSA spying on Germany and Europe, Kerry had called for a "trans-Atlantic Renaissance." Kerry, who spent his youth in Berlin as the son of US diplomats, is considered to have a good affinity to Europe.

Sowing Distrust

During her first formal government address in parliament on Wednesday, Merkel once again addressed surveillance by the NSA and criticized the US. "An approach in which the end justifies the means and in which anything that is technologically possible is also used violates trust and sows distrust," Merkel said of the US intelligence service's vast surveillance measures.

"In the end, you have less, not more, security," Merkel said. She said that views in the US and Germany over the affair "diverge widely".

It has been alleged in SPIEGEL reporting that the NSA spied on the data of Germans millions of times and that it eavesdropped on the chancellor's mobile phone.

In addition to discussion of the NSA scandal, the controversial trans-Atlantic free trade agreement could be a central focus of talks between the US secretary of state and Steinmeier and Merkel, but also the current situation in Ukraine and Syria.

American officials have also noted with interest that Germany's new defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, spoke out in an interview with SPIEGEL this week in favor of strengthening the country's international engagement. "From a purely humanitarian perspective, we can't look away when murder and rape are taking place daily," the politician said, with a view of a possible expansion of Germany's military deployments in Africa.

But Kerry's trip also coincides with a phase of new tensions in German-American relations. This week, members of the Bundestag, the federal parliament, want to submit a petition for the creation of a special committee to investigate the NSA affair. The spying scandal is also expected to be one of the most important issues addressed at the Munich Security Conference, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

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1. USA is no longer garant of human rights
t13ru999 01/30/2014
After severe breaches of basic human rights (Guantanamo, use of torture during "war on terror") there is no surprise that US secret services no longer respect right of human for privacy. The question remains if we can consider our politicians trustworthy, when chances are, that our officials could be blackmailed to push US interrest before interrest of their nations? And if it is not in fact unprovoked act of war, when US DOD considers simillar eavesdropping and surveillance as act of war?
2. optional
peskyvera 01/30/2014
Break off diplomatic relations until the US - and the UK, for that matter, has removed every single spying device. Some friend!
3. optional
rafael 01/30/2014
MERKEL, for once, has to have the guts to show KERRY that Berlin is not just another stop-over on Kerry's multi-disfunctional itineraries across Atlantic. She either demands from USA some commitments to good neighbourly behaviour, or stop pretending that Germany under her stewardship means anything but just that, yet another stop-over on US's fruitless diplomacy, littered with nothing but empty diplomatic nicesities.
4. Trust based on more lies ?
greanknight 01/31/2014
Germany is supposed to trust the USA? The old lies fell apart so they're telling us new ones.
5. Trust?
spon-1267114420663 01/31/2014
After some respite in the overall low estimate in the Bush era and the big hopes German people had initially in the Obama government, there is now not only big disappoinment but also thorough mistrust towards the USA. NSA is like a cancerous desease worldwide. Mr. Kerry cannot build up trust, and USA are no more a 'trusted friend' - if it ever was! The German public is not so easily be fooled as the american public, and this applies to the vast majority of Europeans!
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