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France calls for common EU stand on US spying claims

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday called for the European Union to take a common stand over allegations of Washington spying on its allies.

"Europe must have a coordinated, common position on the requirements we need to come up with and the explanations we must ask for," Hollande said as he met his Lithuanian counterpart Dalia Grybauskaite, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, in Paris.

Media reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) bugged European offices and embassies have sparked widespread concern in Europe, with Hollande on Monday warning that they threatened talks due to start next week on a crucial EU-US free trade pact.

Hollande also said France had not received an official request for asylum from fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor behind the spying allegations.

Paris has "not yet received any particular request from Mr Snowden," Hollande said, refusing to comment further.

WikiLeaks said Monday that Snowden had submitted asylum requests to 21 countries including France.

Grybauskaite said her office was in consultation with the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, over the allegations and was expecting answers from Washington.

"We are requesting different information from the United States to respond to the information we saw recently in the media," she said.

"We're waiting for those responses, and this is important because Europe is concerned about such information in the public domain," she said.

"What is important for us is to protect all private information for our citizens and there are concerns that we will be expressing to our partners in the United States."

She said the EU had received some information from the United States and "they are ready to cooperate".

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130702/france-calls-common-eu-stand-us-spying-claims-0