U.S., Germany set up dialogue to discuss intelligence dispute

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:04pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Germany on Tuesday set up a procedure to address disputes over intelligence-gathering that have soured relations between the two close allies and resulted in Germany's expulsion of the CIA station chief in Berlin.

The initiative followed talks in Berlin between top aides of President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel to address anger at U.S. surveillance practices disclosed by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Obama's chief of staff Denis McDonough and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco met in the German capital with Merkel's chief of staff Peter Altmaier and her intelligence coordinator Guenter Heiss.

A White House statement said the meetings were prompted by a recent telephone conversation about intelligence matters between Obama and Merkel. The advisers had "intensive talks on the state of bilateral relations and future cooperation," including intelligence matters, the statement said.

"Mr. McDonough and Mr. Altmaier agreed to set up a structured dialogue to address concerns of both sides and establish guiding principles as the basis for continued and future cooperation," the White House said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said the decision earlier this month to ask the CIA station chief to leave was prompted by "a break of trust" between Berlin and Washington.

Earlier, evidence leaked by Snowden showed that Merkel's personal cellphone had been targeted for surveillance.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by David Storey and Andrea Ricci)

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