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US spying claims threaten transatlantic ties: Merkel

US spying claims threaten transatlantic ties: Merkel

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday said that transatlantic ties, including the negotiations on a free trade deal, are being tested by the alleged extensive US spying in Germany and Europe.

"The transatlantic relationship and also the negotiations for a free-trade agreement are now without doubt being put to the test," reported Xinhua citing Merkel telling the lower house of the German parliament, referring to the alleged US spying in Germany that included tapping of Merkel's own phone conversations.

"The allegations are serious," Merkel said, "They must be explained, and more importantly, new trust must be built for the future."

The German-US relationship was of "paramount" importance for Germany and Europe, Merkel, however, added.

Earlier, Merkel made it clear that she would not put the German-US ties at risk as Berlin ruled out granting whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in Germany which would be a diplomatic affront against the US.

German and US intelligence officials are trying to reach an anti-spying agreement, hoping to alleviate the public outcry over media reports that US intelligence agencies have monitored tens of millions of phone calls in Germany and other European countries.

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