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Kerry: 'Legitimate' Surveillance Concerns No Barrier to EU Trade Talks

  • VOA News

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks during a press conference after talks with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, right, in Warsaw, Poland, Nov. 5, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says "legitimate questions" about U.S. surveillance efforts should not affect upcoming trade talks between the United States and the European Union.

Kerry said Tuesday during a visit to Poland that the United States is reviewing its surveillance activity and will work closely with its allies to make sure the path forward is "understood and is mutually agreed upon."

"We want to hear from our allies. We want to have this conversation," he said. "President Obama welcomes this opportunity to work with our allies, and ultimately if we get it right, which we will, we can not only alleviate concerns, but we can actually strengthen our intelligence relationships going forward, and we can all be more secure and safer as a result as well as protecting the privacy of citizens."

Kerry said the potential trade deal is about jobs and global competition, and could lead to increased standards in the way the world does business.

But the negotiations come amid anger from European governments that want the U.S. to explain allegations that the National Security Agency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone calls and those of other allies.

Kerry met with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski for wide-ranging talks that included economic cooperation, defense ties, environmental issues and plans for deploying a missile defense system.

He began his visit by going to the gravesite of Poland's first post-Communist prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who died last week. Kerry laid a wreath, which he said Tuesday was in recognition of Mr. Mazowiecki's contribution to democracy and human rights.

The secretary will next travel to Israel and the West Bank, where he will meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials as they continue peace negotiations. He also is due to visit Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco.