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German gov't exaggerates likelihood of no-spy deal to public: report

BERLIN, May 27 (Xinhua) -- A German newspaper reported Wednesday that the German government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel had exaggerated the possibility of a no-spy agreement with the United States in the run-up to Germany's general elections in 2013.

According to German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), the government told the public about an upcoming no-spy deal despite having no clear promise from the U.S. administration that it was willing to negotiate on such a treaty.

A German delegation travelled to Washington on Aug. 5, 2013 to discuss a possible agreement between the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Germany's Foreign Intelligence Service (BND), following revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden that the NSA had spied on German citizens.

According to government documents obtained by SZ in collaboration with German broadcasters NDR and WDR, then German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called his U.S. counterpart John Kerry two days later to discuss the issue, and Kerry appeared "willing, without making concrete promise" to discuss the possibility of an anti-espionage deal with Germany.

Despite the lack of solid consent from Washington, Ronald Pofalla, then Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery, said on Aug. 12 that the U.S. had offered to conclude a no-spy treaty. On Aug. 14, government spokesman Steffen Seibert made another announcement, saying "there will be a no-spy deal between the BND and the NSA."

Members of opposition and ruling parties have also accused Merkel's government of hyperbolizing the likelihood of a no-spy agreement to the public ahead of the 2013 general elections.

However, Seibert said two weeks ago that the German government had spoken according to what it believed to be true over the deal in the summer of 2013.

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