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Thursday, June 25, 2015, 09:45

US denies spying on French leaders

By Agencies

US denies spying on French leaders
French President Francois Hollande walks through the lobby of the Elysee Palace after the weekly cabinet, June 24, 2015 in Paris, France. (AP Photo / Kamil Zihnioglu)

WASHINGTON - The United States is not spying on French President Francois Hollande or any other French government officials, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

"We are not targeting President Hollande, we will not target friends like President Hollande, and we don't conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is some very specific and validated national security purpose, which I don't know of in this instance," Kerry said at a news conference.

Kerry also said there was not a direct confrontation or finger-pointing at China over the problem of cyber-theft during high-level discussions in Washington this week.

Embarrassed by leaked conversations of three successive French presidents and angered by new evidence of uninhibited American spying, France demanded answers Wednesday from the Obama administration and called for an intelligence "code of conduct'' between allies.

France's foreign minister summoned the US ambassador to respond to the WikiLeaks revelations, as French eyes fixed on the top floor of the US Embassy after reports that a nest of NSA surveillance equipment was concealed behind elaborately painted windows there, just down the block from the presidential Elysee Palace.

US President Barack Obama told French President Hollande in a phone conversation Wednesday that the US wasn't targeting his communications. The White House said Obama told Hollande that the US was abiding by a commitment Obama made in 2013 not to spy on the French leader after Edward Snowden disclosed the extent of NSA surveillance powers.

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