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Obama: 'There's no country where we have a no-spy agreement'

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,National Security,NSA,Edward Snowden,France,Francois Hollande

President Obama denied that the United States has a "no-spy agreement" with the United Kingdom, explaining to a French reporter that "there's no country" that enjoys such a privileged status, though his administration respects the privacy rights of all people.

"There's no country where we have a no-spy agreement," Obama said during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, implying that the United States reserves the right to spy on anyone. He did, however, acknowledge that there are U.S. partnerships with other countries.

Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have demanded such an agreement following the revelations by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

"Spying on friends is not on at all," Merkel said.

The United States does have a World War II-era agreement with the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, known as the Five Eyes, which allowed for intelligence-sharing among the countries but did not completely preclude spying on each other.

"In a draft 2005 directive in the name of the NSA's director of signals intelligence, the agency prepared policies that would enable spying on 5-Eyes partners, even without permission of the other country: '[The March 1946 UK-USA agreement] has evolved to include a common understanding that both governments will not target each other's citizens/persons. However, when it is in the best interest of each nation, each reserved the right to conduct unilateral Comint action against each other's citizens/persons,' " The Guardian explained.

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