Last updated at 13:43 BST, Wednesday, 09 April 2014

Obama tries to repair relations with Germany

Summary

20 January 2014

President Obama has taken the unusual step of broadcasting on one of the main German television channels to try to repair the damage to the trans-Atlantic relationship from the spying revelations. Both the European Commission and Chancellor Merkel welcomed aspects of it without showing any great enthusiasm.

Reporter:

Steve Evans

President Obama

President Obama told Germany's ZDF TV that he did not want to "harm" his relationship with Mrs Merkel

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Report

Chancellor Merkel welcomed the recognition by President Obama that the rights of non-US citizens should be respected. But she repeated her assertion that German law should not be broken, especially, as she put it, "by close partners and allies".

The European Commission's tone was warmer. A statement said that President Obama had taken an important step towards rebuilding trust.

European political leaders don't like what happened but are keen now to move on and minimise damage to the trans-Atlantic relationship. But many within government circles remain unconvinced that snooping on their communications will cease.

President Obama speaking on Germany's ZDF TV:

I don't need and I don't want to harm that relationship by surveillance mechanisms that somehow would impede the kind of communication and trust that we have and so, what I can say is, that as long as I am president of the United States, the Chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this.

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Vocabulary

recognition

respect for or acceptance of that something is true

respected

treated properly

assertion

claim that something is true

tone

sound of voice

rebuilding

(here) trying to get back to a good position

snooping

watching someone secretly without them knowing

surveillance mechanisms

methods of watching someone or something to try to discover an illegal act

impede

make more difficult

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