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Kerry, French Counterpart Discuss Spying Allegations

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris, Oct. 22, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to discuss recent revelations that a U.S. spy agency eavesdropped on millions of phone calls of French citizens.

A spokesman for the foreign minister told reporters that during a breakfast meeting Tuesday Fabius asked his U.S. counterpart for an explanation of the spying practices. The spokesman called such practices "unacceptable."

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama called French President Francois Hollande to discuss French outrage about the scandal.

Obama told the French leader the United States is reviewing its intelligence gathering to ensure a balance between security and privacy.

The White House has complained that some allegations of U.S. activities carried in the French press were "distorted."

An article in the French daily newspaper Le Monde alleged that the NSA gathered tens of millions of French phone records over a one-month period . Fabius has called the claims "shocking."

Kerry was questioned on the matter when he arrived Monday in Paris for talks on the Middle East. He declined to talk about the specific allegations, but said the United States would discuss the matter privately with French officials and other concerned allies. He said protecting the security of people in today's world is very complicated and challenging.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf would not confirm or deny the recent reports of U.S. spying. She told reporters Monday that all countries understand the value of gathering intelligence and said the United States is willing to discuss concerns that any country has about U.S. practices.

The spokeswoman said there is always a balance between security and privacy, and said the United States is trying to figure out where that balance lies.