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Berlin plays down scandal over spying on Afghan minister

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, April 25, IRNA
The German government here Friday played down a scandal involving allegations that its foreign intelligence agency BND had eavesdropped on Afghan Trade and Industry Minister Amin Farhang.

Speaking at a regular weekly news conference, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger merely said that bilateral relations remained "close and trusting".

He stressed his ministry had not yet received any official protest from the Kabul government.

His comments preceded earlier remarks by Farhang who expressed "disappointment" in an interview with the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspapers that neither the German government nor the BND had offered any apologies to him personally.

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhlem did not comment on a likely personal apology to Farhang.

Meanwhile, Jaeger said that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will contact his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta over the weekend to discuss the secret service spying affair.

The BND did say earlier this week it regretted the fact that it had read e-mails from a German journalist who had contacted Farhang.

BND chief Ernst Uhrlau who has faced strong criticism over the affair, briefed a parliamentary committee on this case this week during a closed-door session.

The chancellery has already ordered disciplinary actions for several BND employees for their alleged role in the scandal which is also being probed by an investigative group, Wilhelm was quoted saying.


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