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Obama sends top aides to Berlin

Effort to defuse tension over spies

President Obama dispatched his chief of staff to Berlin yesterday in an effort to defuse tension with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government over U.S. espionage after the expulsion of the top American spy.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Lisa Monaco, Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, met with McDonough’s counterpart Peter Altmaier and German intelligence coordinator Guenter Heiss, the two governments said in statements. The group agreed to establish a “structured dialogue” for further talks.

“The full range of issues was addressed, including intelligence and security matters,” the statements said. White House press secretary Josh Earnest declined to share additional information about the meeting.

U.S.-German relations suffered a blow following the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance and the hacking of Merkel’s mobile phone. Tensions boiled over this month with the emergence of two espionage probes involving suspected double agents working for U.S. intelligence.

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