Angela Merkel sends top aides to quiz Washington over spy claims

German chancellor's top aides will meet again with the White House over allegations her mobile phone was monitored by US intelligence gatherers

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The Independent Online

Angela Merkel has sent her highest ranking foreign affairs and intelligence advisers to quiz Washington today over allegations that communications on her mobile phone were monitored by US intelligence agencies. 

Officials within the White House will be joined by the German Chancellor's top advisor and intelligence co-coordinators as part of a series of trips by top German and European Union officials to the United States this week.

The meeting this afternoon comes after Washington was forced to deny reports President Barack Obama knew that Ms Merkel’s mobile phone was under surveillance and did not move in to prevent her communications from being monitored.

Ms Merkel is one of 34 foreign leaders who has been monitored for years, according to intelligence leaks from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The White House has not denied reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) had monitored Merkel's phone but said no such surveillance was taking place now.

Merkel wants the United States to agree a “no spying” deal with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year and to stop alleged espionage against two of Washington's closest EU allies.

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Ms Merkel said: “I can confirm that the two top aides from the chancellery are in Washington for talks today.

“The talks aim to set up a new foundation for trust,” he told a news conference.

On Tuesday the European Union team met the head of the NSA, army General Keith Alexander, and US Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee.

European lawmaker Elmar Brok, a German national, told German daily Bild that his meeting with the US officials produced no breakthroughs but did suggest "the Americans recognise the immense political damage caused by this affair".

Congress is weighing new legislative proposals that could limit some of the NSA's means of gathering intelligence, after President Obama said he wanted to ensure that in light of the NSA’s increasing technological expansion and development “that what they are able to do, doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing.”