France has called for a two-week delay to talks over the trade deal between the European Union and the United States, in the wake of allegations that the US has been spying on its allied nations across the pond.
German news magazine Der Spiegel reported earlier this week that the US National Security Agency had wiretapped EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels, as well as monitored their computer networks, based on a 2010 NSA document leaked by former contractor and fugitive Edward Snowden.
"This is not about stopping negotiations on the free trade agreement, but it does seem wise to temporarily suspend them, probably for a period of 15 days, to avoid controversy and to give time to obtain the requested information," French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said Wednesday.
Germany, meanwhile, has said it wants the talks to begin as scheduled on July 8.
"The talks are in the hands of the European Commission, which wants to start them on July 8. Germany supports them in this," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference.
"We want a free-trade deal, and we will start the negotiations. Europe will find a way to discuss the themes which are important to us," he added.
France's Vallaud-Belkacem said the potential trade agreement "is important for the European Union, as for the United States," especially to stimulate economic growth, but added that "for these negotiations to take place with serenity, both sides must be able to meet in confidence."
The agreement would be the biggest free trade deal ever negotiated, and aims to dismantle barriers between the US and the European Union. It would add around 119 billion euros ($159 billion) annually to the EU economy, and $127 billion dollars for the United States.
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