This may well have been very awkward.
Three days after Germany expelled the CIA’s top official in Germany, Secretary of State John Kerry met with his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, along with U.S. and German delegations in Vienna.
The meeting was not called to address the intelligence controversy, which arose after new allegations of U.S. spying on Germany, after the NSA’s reported eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew a sharp reaction last year.
As the meeting got under way, Kerry wished Germany good luck in today’s World Cup final, and he made no mention of spying as he addressed reporters after the meeting ended.
“Let me emphasize, the relationship between the United States and Germany is a strategic one. We have enormous political cooperation and we are great friends and we will continue to work together in the kind of spirit that we exhibited today,” Kerry said, according to a pool reporter traveling with him. Steinmeier spoke in German without translation after the meeting.
The two men and their teams had traveled to Vienna for a round of talks with the P5+1 (the U.S., Germany, France, the UK, Russia, and China) and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program. Earlier this week, the State Deptartment said the meeting with Germany’s foreign minister would provide an opportunity to discuss “bilateral issues.”
At the moment, that would almost certainly include the recent allegations of spying, as a 31-year-old German man was arrested this month on suspicion of spying for a foreign power. German news outlets identified him as a German intelligence employee accused of passing secrets to the U.S. A week later, German authorities reportedly searched the home of a defense-ministry employee suspected of spying for the U.S.
The White House has not denied that the U.S. sought to obtain secrets from Germany, and spokesman Josh Earnest refused to discuss the matter on Friday, insisting that the U.S. and Germany enjoy a “strong and enduring relationship.”