Kerry cites 'rough period' in U.S.-German relations

Jan. 31, 2014 at 4:54 PM

BERLIN, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Berlin Friday, said the United States takes Germany's anger over intercepted phone messages seriously.

"We've been through a rough period in the last months, but I'm pleased to be here to help direct our focus," Kerry said after meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a reference to the monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel's telephone by U.S. intelligence.

Before meeting with Merkel, Kerry told reporters the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a comprehensive trade agreement whose negotiations were nearly canceled by Germany in light of the eavesdropping revelations, "will be an economic engine for both our countries as well as for all of Europe."

Kerry also called forcing Syria's compliance with a U.N. demand it eliminate its chemical weapons "a global, legal, international obligation" and noted Germany's participation in negotiations with Iran regarding the latter's nuclear program.

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