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EU leaders' anger at 'US spying'
European leaders have reacted with anger at a European summit after it emerged that t he US National Security Agency had monitored their telephone conversations after obtaining their numbers from an official in another government department.
The revelation has led to widespread condemnation, and the French and German governments have demanded talks with the United States by the end of the year to resolve the dispute and attempt to restore trust.
French president Francois Hollande said: "What is at stake is preserving our relations with the United States. They should not be changed because of what has happened. But trust has to be restored and reinforced."
German chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of her upset at the alleged phone monitoring, saying: "It's become clear that for the future, something must change - and significantly.
"We will put all efforts into forging a joint understanding by the end of the year for the co-operation of the (intelligence) agencies between Germany and the US and France and the US, to create a framework for the co-operation."
The allegations of snooping emerged following a leaked document from the former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden.
The Guardian reports that a confidential memo shows the NSA encouraged senior officials in departments such as the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon to provide access to their "Rolodexes" containing the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians.
One US official alone was said to have passed on 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named, who were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA.
The disclosure will heighten the tensions between the US and key European allies, after Mrs Merkel challenged President Barack Obama over claims the Americans tapped her mobile phone.
President Hollande earlier called Mr Obama to confront him over allegations that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and texts of millions of French people.
In a carefully-worded statement, the White House said the US "is not monitoring and will not monitor" Mrs Merkel's communications but officials in Berlin pointed out that it did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.
The latest NSA memo obtained by The Guardian, dated October 2006, was issued to staff in the agency's Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID) and describes how US officials who mixed with world leaders and politicians could help agency surveillance.
"In one recent case a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders," it notes.
"Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs (intelligence production centres) have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked."
The document also describes how the numbers provided the NSA leads to further telephone numbers which were also "tasked", but admits that the surveillance had produced "little reportable intelligence".
Earlier, it was reported that the US had denied ever spying on Prime Minister David Cameron.
Caitlin Hayden, a spokesman for the National Security Council told the Daily Telegraph: "We do not monitor PM Cameron's communications."
Asked if the US had ever spied on Mr Cameron in the past, she replied: "No."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman refused to comment, saying: "I'm not going to comment on matters of security or intelligence."
Britain and the US - along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand - are members of the so-called "Five Eyes" group, who share signals intelligence and are supposed not to spy on each other.
Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to Nato 2008-2009, said "every country spies" and he could not believe that the revelations were a surprise to anyone.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I do want to give Chancellor Merkel and others a measure of credit and due credit, there is a measure of trust that matters. We are actually on the same side and we are talking to each other all the time so you don't expect those things are happening.
"But, at the same time, I do think this level of outrage is more for political reasons than for real outrage."
Lord West of Spithead, a security minister under Gordon Brown, said he had "always worked on the assumption" that people were listening to his phone calls.
"I know they jolly well were, " he told Today.
"I don't think it's surprising that people try and listen. If you are a head of state there are lots of people, not just other states, who are listening. There are companies, all sorts of people, who want to hear what you are saying and I think you have to be extremely careful."
He added: "What it has done is taken away attention from the real damage Snowden has done, which is actually listing names of good people who are now at risk and exposing techniques and ways of doing business by GCHQ and NSA that already people who wish to kill us are utilising to try and not get caught.
"He has, without doubt, made all of us less safe and that is a real worry."
Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt told the programme: "The Americans spying on Iran, China and Korea, there are good reasons for, on Russia, but that they are doing it on France, on the chancellor of Germany... there is no reason for that. So I think it is a real scandal, a problem and we have to find a way out.
"There is a new agreement needed between the European countries and the US on this. It cannot continue like that."
Cherie Blair told Today she had "no idea" if the phones were tapped when her husband Tony was prime minister.