U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Meets With Middle East Leaders

Nearly all national governments, not just the United States, use “lots of activities” to safeguard their interests and security, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday, responding for the first time to allegations that Washington spied on the European Union and other allies.

The EU has strongly demanded that the United States explain a report in a German magazine that Washington is spying on the group, saying that, if true, the alleged surveillance was “shocking”.

The Guardian newspaper said in an article late on Sunday that the United States had also targeted non-European allies including Japan, South Korea and India for spying — an awkward development for Kerry as he arrived for an Asian security conference in Brunei on Monday.

Kerry confirmed that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton had raised the issue with him in a meeting with him in Brunei but gave no further details of their exchange. He said he had yet to see details of the newspaper allegations.

“I will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations,” Kerry told a news conference.

Some EU policymakers said talks for a free trade agreement between Washington and the EU should be put on ice until further clarification from the United States.