Angela Merkel favours surveillance for citizens' security

Berlin, July 11 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended German intelligence services and intelligence cooperation with other countries, saying that the intelligence work is essential for the security of citizens.

It has been the responsibility of secret services to cooperate with others for German security, reported Xinhua citing Merke telling a daily, while calling for the necessary discussions to take place in a spirit that does not neglect the fact that the US "has for decades been and still is our most loyal ally".

"For decades, intelligence services have been working together under certain conditions that are tightly regulated in our country, and this serves our security," Merkel said.

Merkel said she was only made aware of the US spying programms through media reports, as the opposition has pressed her on how much she knew about the US surveillance activities after whistleblower Edward Snowden made revelations about US spying network.

He told German magazine Der Spiegel in a recent interview that the US National Security Agency (NSA) worked closely with the German intelligence service.

Stressing a balance between ensuring public security and protecting citizens' privacy, Merkel rejected the comparisons between the US surveillance activities and the former East German Stasi secret police.

Merkel said the two were completely different things and such comparisons only "lead to a trivialisation of what the Stasi did to people" in East Germany.

She said intelligence work in democratic states has always been and will in future be essential for the security of citizens, adding that "a country without intelligence work would be too vulnerable".

US President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed last Wednesday to hold a high-level bilateral meeting over US surveillance programmes.