By Mick Krever, CNN
The U.S. “cannot fight terrorism” by listening to German Chancellor Angel Merkel’s personal cell phone, the foreign minister of that country, Guido Westerwelle, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
“I understand that it is necessary to fight against terrorism,” he said, “but you cannot fight terrorism by taping the Chancellor’s cell phone.”
When asked if Westerwelle believed that his own phone was being tapped, the foreign minister demurred.
“I cannot exclude it,” he said.
Representatives of the European Parliament have been in Washington this whole week, holding discussions with the State Department, Congress, and intelligence agencies.
The White House has said that it "is not monitoring and will not monitor” Chancellor Merkel’s communications, but has not commented on whether it has in the past.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Merkel’s phone had been monitored for more than 10 years.
“This is a breach of trust,” Westerwelle said. “We, as responsible political leaders, have now to consider and to negotiate with each other how can we rebuild, restore this confidence and distrust between our government[s].”
Amanpour asked Westerwelle what Merkel’s “personal” reaction was to her phone being tapped.
“I think it was, on the one hand relaxed,” he said. “On the other hand, everyone could see that she was disappointed.”
He said that the spying row would not affect negotiations over a proposed U.S.-EU free trade deal, echoing a similar sentiment from the American ambassador in London.
The deal “is in our mutual strategic interest; the Western world will benefit from this agreement,” he said.
To building trust, the foreign minister suggested that a reciprocal American delegation in Europe, to explain U.S. intelligence activities, would go a long way.
“For the long-term partnership, one thing is for sure: We are not only partners, we are really good and close friends,” Westerwelle said, adding that the U.S. and Germany “belong to the same community of values.”