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January 18, 2018

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Obama calls French president who is angered by U.S. spying


Charles Dharapak / AP

President Barack Obama walks back to the Oval Office after he visited Martha’s Table, which assists the poor and where some furloughed federal employees are volunteering, in Washington, Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. President Obama spoke about the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling during remarks to reporters during his visit.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama called French President Francois Hollande on Monday to discuss France's anger over reported aggressive surveillance tactics by the National Security Agency.

The call came after a French newspaper said the NSA swept up 70.3 million French phone records in a 30-day period. France summoned the U.S. ambassador to explain and called the practice "totally unacceptable."

The White House says some recent disclosures about the NSA have been distorted but that some raise legitimate questions for U.S. allies about how America's intelligence capabilities are used.

Obama told the French president that the U.S. was reviewing its intelligence-gathering to ensure a balance between security and privacy.

The French president's office said in a statement that Hollande told Obama he strongly condemned the practices and found them unacceptable between allies. Hollande also asked Obama to specify all the information that former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden may possess. Documents leaked by Snowden have been behind a series of revelations about NSA surveillance programs.

The White House said both presidents agreed they should continue diplomatic discussions about the issue.

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