U.S. spying allegations 'unacceptable' says defence minister

Mauro calls for bold response from EU

U.S. spying allegations 'unacceptable' says defence minister

(see related) Rome, July 1 - Italy's defense minister said it was "unacceptable" if reports were confirmed that the United States spied on the diplomatic offices of the European Union and several countries, including Italy. "We have to call things what they are: if we're allies, it is unacceptable that someone behaves that way," said Mario Mauro. Speaking at a forum hosted by Italian daily La Repubblica, the defence minister suggested the affair could force the EU to take a bold position. "Perhaps for the first time we'll see if such a thing as European foreign policy exists," he said. "Europe tends to grow up when its back is to the wall". The European Commission handed European Union foreign chief Catherine Ashton a mandate earlier Monday to raise the issue of United States eavesdropping of EU data with US authorities in Washington and Brussels. The EC said it expected the US to clear up the affair, saying it anticipated the US would be "as transparent as the EU expects from its allies". After his remarks, Mauro called for calm. "Given the true friendship that exists between our countries things should not be rushed," he said. The suspicions of US spying on EU missions and the embassies of European countries were based on a report published Sunday by German weekly Der Spiegel. It claimed that the US National Security Agency (NSA) bugged diplomats from allies such as the EU offices in Brussels, New York and Washington, as well as embassies of countries such as Italy, Greece and France. The report was partly based on revelations of American government secret surveillance leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. He is currently seeking asylum in Ecuador but is believed to still be held up in the Moscow airport after the US revoked his passport.

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