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Kerry: US to Work Closely With Allies Over Surveillance Concerns

by Scott Stearns November 05, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration will work more closely with allies to overcome privacy concerns raised by the revelation of U.S. intelligence operations in Europe. In Poland, Kerry discussed the spy scandal and efforts to end Syria's civil war.

Kerry says the Obama administration welcomes the opportunity to discuss concerns raised by the disclosure of U.S. eavesdropping as Washington and its European allies are all trying to balance the protection and privacy of their citizens.

'Ultimately if we get it right, which we will, we can not only alleviate concerns but we can actually strengthen our intelligence relationships going forward, and we can all be more secure and safer as a result as well as protecting the privacy of citizens,' he said.

The spy scandal began with documents released by former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden alleging that the United States collects records of domestic e-mails and telephone calls as well as the cell phone and Internet activities of individuals overseas.

​​Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski says he and Kerry agreed on closer cooperation between their intelligence services.

'It is also vital to make sure that our rights and regulations and procedures keep up with the technological progress so that our citizens can feel safe and the alliances are not threatened, are not overburdened by such incidents as this case of Mr. Snowden,' he said.

Sikorski and Kerry also discussed efforts to end Syria's civil war, with the Polish foreign minister saying a negotiated settlement is the only answer.

'We think that this is the last chance, the last resort for Syria and for its citizens,' he said.

The official Syrian news agency quotes Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi as saying President Bashar al-Assad's government will not take part in talks on a transitional government if those talks are designed to remove the president from power.

Syrian opposition groups are refusing to join those talks unless the president agrees to step down. Kerry says Assad has lost all legitimacy, but he still expects the current government in Damascus to take part.

'I hope that the Syrian government and the Russians and Iranians and others who support the Syrian regime will make certain that the Syrian regime will live up to its obligation to come to Geneva to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria,' he said.

U.S. and Russian officials are meeting with U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva to prepare for the long-delayed talks amid continuing disagreement over who else might take part. President Assad wants to invite Iran. The United States says Tehran must first agree to the overall executive authority of the interim government to come.

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