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EU-US security talks to touch on spying row

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US and the EU will hold security talks this month in Brussels and Vilnius, with the US spying that infuriated Europeans to come up in the discussions, Lithuania said Wednesday.

Lithuania assumed the rotating half-year EU presidency on July 1, soon after allegations surfaced that the US had been vacuuming up huge amounts of phone and Internet data and snooping on its European allies.

That spy row cast a shadow over the Monday start of bilateral talks in Washington on what could be the world's largest free-trade deal.

"We need to clear this up. Protection of personal data must be ensured, these are EU principles," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters on Wednesday.

"These consultations will continue in Brussels and, in the nearest future, in Lithuania," she said in the Baltic state's capital.

The data protection issue may surface in a July 24-25 meeting of US and EU senior officials in Vilnius, a justice ministry official there said.

But the official added that it was still up in the air whether the agenda would include talks on the PRISM Internet surveillance program.

Diplomatic sources told AFP on Wednesday that experts could meet in Brussels on July 22, though details of the talks and delegations are not yet final.

The EU-US free trade pact aims to reduce commercial barriers between the two giants and so help both pull clear of the financial crisis.

Grybauskaite, a former EU budget chief, welcomed the parallel talks, saying many questions remained over the role of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked the spy allegations.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130710/eu-us-security-talks-touch-spying-row