White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that there's no doubt that U.S. spying has caused problems with a number of allies, but that the Obama administration is working on smoothing over relationships.
Carney, traveling with the president, was responding to reporters traveling aboard Air Force One to remarks made Wednesday by Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel .
In the first major policy speech of her third term, Merkel said Berlin and Washington are still "far apart" on the touchy issue of spying.
"Can it be right that it's not just about defending against terrorist threats but also to gain advantage over their allies, for example, in negotiations at G20 summits or U.N. sessions?" she asked. "Our answer can only be: 'No, that cannot be right'."
Merkel said nations should resist the temptation to "do everything that is technically do-able."
Obama recently announced that the United States would stop spying on dozens of friendly foreign leaders though they would not say which.
“As you know we have been engaged directly with the Germans on this issue," Carney said. "The president and the chancellor have spoken on several occasions and we continue to work on this issue through diplomatic channels.”
“There is no question that the disclosures have — specifically the disclosures themselves and sometimes the context around them — have caused tensions in relations with a number of countries and we work very aggressively and have worked very aggressively through diplomatic channels to address concerns that countries have," he said.