It will take some time before the international community will be able to trust the American government, U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged in an interview Saturday.
Speaking to German public broadcaster ZDF, Obama said classified documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden that revealed how American intelligence agencies targeted foreigners had created “a lot of suspicion” between the United States and allied nations.
“It is going to take some time to win back trust,” Obama said in the interview.
The comments were broadcast one day after the president announced a handful of executive actions that would roll back, but not end, spy programs used by the National Security Agency and other intelligence groups. Among them, the president announced that agencies would no longer “monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies.”
According to Der Spiegel magazine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s was one of several leaders who was spied upon by the NSA. Merkel, who is due to visit the White House later this month, reacted by comparing the NSA to the Stazi, the former secret police of communist East Germany.
Obama declined to comment when asked by ZDF journalist Claus Kleber about the NSA’s monitoring of Merkel’s cell phone, but he reassured Merkel that “as long as I’m president of the United States, the chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this.”
DOCUMENT: President Obama’s interview with ZDF, English transcript