Germany is sending senior intelligence officials to Washington, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday, amid outrage over claims the U.S. National Security Agency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
Among them will be the heads of Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence services and the coordinator of the federal intelligence services, the government's press office said.
The trip comes amid a series of reports that have challenged relations between the two long-time allies. The latest is a story in the German magazine Der Spiegel that - citing a secret U.S. intelligence file - claimed Merkel's phone had been monitored for more than 10 years, stretching back before her current post.
The same database indicated the United States was spying on many others in Berlin's political district, at least up to when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Berlin this year, Der Spiegel reported.
Asked about these claims, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said her agency does not "comment publicly on every specific intelligence activity."
"And, as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," said Hayden, echoing comments she and others have made in recent days.
Still, it remains to be seen if citizens and leaders in Europe will accept such explanations - and whether recent efforts by the Obama administration to address their concerns will be successful.