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United States

Steinmeier and Kerry talk World Cup and US espionage

Germany‘s foreign minister has met with his American counterpart to discuss US spying. Bild am Sonntag has reported that the US has recruited moles in Germany‘s Defense, Development, Economic and Interior ministries.

On the sidelines of talks on Iran's nuclear program in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry (left in photo) turned to soccer to break the ice with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (right), before the two discussed the row over alleged US spies.

Recent charges that the United States has recruited employees of Germany's foreign intelligence service and Defense Ministry have strained relations between the two countries - as has a new report that several spies can be found at all levels of government.

"I already wished him good luck for tonight," Kerry told reporters as he and Steinmeier sat down for the discussion, taking place only hours before Germany's World Cup final against Argentina. "You can see how focused we are," Kerry joked, as Steinmeier smiled.

On Sunday, the mass-market newspaper Bild reported that spies who have infiltrated several German ministries have not met with their US handlers during the diplomatic row. Bild also reported that growing pressure in Germany has caused US intelligence operatives to now consider basing their recruitment activities in Warsaw or Prague.

Merkel weighs in

In an interview with the public broadcaster ZDF on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the US and Germany have "fundamentally different views" about how intelligence agencies should operate. She said partners should not spy on each other, though she acknowledged that it would be difficult to convince the United States to change its ways. Despite their differences, Merkel wants German and US intelligence agencies to continue cooperating.

"Germany profits from the cooperation concerning counterterrorism and other things," Merkel said.

Over the past two weeks, authorities have uncovered two Germans who allegedly were working for the US as spies. In the first case, a BND employee admitted to spying for the United States after the German government alleged that he had sold more than 200 documents to the CIA for 25,000 euros ($34,000). In the second case, an employee at the Defense Ministry has been questioned on suspicion of espionage but has denied the allegations.

On Thursday, Germany asked the CIA station chief in Berlin to leave the country in response to US spying.

mkg/tj (AFP, dpa)

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