Obama expresses regret to Japan's Abe for spying charges

AP News
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Posted: Aug 26, 2015 8:59 AM

TOKYO (AP) — President Barack Obama has called Japan's leader to express regret over recent WikiLeaks allegations that the U.S. spied on senior Japanese officials, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

Obama told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he thought the trouble the revelations caused Abe and his government was regrettable, the Japanese government spokesman told reporters.

The 40-minute call took place Wednesday morning Japan time.

Japanese officials faced questioning from the media and in parliament after WikiLeaks posted online what appeared to be five U.S. National Security Agency reports on Japanese positions on international trade and climate change. They date from 2007 to 2009. WikiLeaks also posted what it said was an NSA list of 35 Japanese targets for telephone intercepts.

Abe told Obama that the allegations could undermine trust between the countries, and reiterated his request for an investigation of the matter.

The White House said in a statement that Obama told Abe in the phone call "that our intelligence collection is focused on national security interests and is as narrowly tailored as possible."

The comments from both sides seemed to echo the exchange between Abe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in a similar call earlier this month.

The two leaders also discussed global economic turmoil, trade, North Korea and climate change.

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Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.