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US denies spying on Merkel

It is reported that the US monitored private cellphone calls of the German Chancellor.

US President Barack Obama with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The White House has denied that American intelligence agencies snooped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's private cellphone.

Merkel called US President Barack Obama on Wednesday to ask whether a media report which made the spying claims was true.

The information emerged from documents about the work of the National Security Agency (NSA) leaked by Edward Snowden.

Merkel said if proven true, the snooping would be a serious breach of trust.

But the White House's spokesman Jay Carney, responding to the news in Washington, said Obama is not monitoring the Chancellor's communication and will not do so in future.

The news broke as Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to Rome, faced fresh questions about mass spying on European allies, based on revelations from Edward Snowden, the fugitive former US intelligence operative granted asylum in Russia.

French President Francois Hollande is pressing for the US spying issue to be put on the agenda of a summit of European leaders starting on Thursday.

Hollande also called Obama earlier this week after French newspaper Le Monde reported that the NSA had collected tens of thousands of French phone records in a single month between December 2012 and January 2013.

Additional reporting by Reuters.