BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that seeking information on other countries was “not unusual” but promised to probe allegations that the United States had bugged European offices.
Kerry said that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton raised concerns about the reports in a meeting in Brunei, but that he could not comment on the specific allegations because he had been travelling abroad.
“Lady Ashton did indeed raise it with me today and we agreed to stay in touch. I agreed to find out exactly what the situation is and I will get back to her,” Kerry told reporters at the ASEAN regional meeting.
“I will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs, of national security, undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that.
“All I know is that that is not unusual for lots of nations,” he said.
“But beyond that, I’m not going to comment any further until I have all of the facts and find out precisely what the situation is,” he said.
Kerry, who flew overnight to the Brunei meetings, noted he had been “deeply immersed” in seeking to revive peace talks in the Middle East.
The European Union has voiced outrage over reports in Der Spiegel that Washington bugged EU offices and European embassies.
European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding warned Sunday that the alleged bugging could put in jeopardy talks for a trade agreement between the United States and European Union, which are in their infancy after long discussion.