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EU-US trade talks will go on - despite Snowden revelations

EU states have agreed to hold trade talks with the US, parallel with surveillance discussions. Bolivia's president left Vienna after his plane was diverted over rumors US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was aboard.

Meeting Wednesday in Berlin, EU leaders supported surveillance talks. However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also reaffirmed the bloc's commitment to trade negotiations.

Member states would not likely have agreed to the two-week postponement proposed by France earlier Wednesday. The European Commission, which negotiates for the 28 member states, and Germany, for examples, had showed no signs of agreeing. Should the talks begin on July 8, they would come after months of protracted efforts to find a common EU stance on the trade deal.

French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem had said the sides would have to prove themselves trustworthy before trade talks. Over the weekend, reports from whistle-blower Edward Snowden alleged that the US National Security Agency had spied on EU states.

"It seems wise to us to suspend (the talks) temporarily, for a period of 15 days," Vallaud-Belkacem had said.

Germany's top security official said Wednesday that those worried about US intelligence agencies should stop using American websites such as Google and Facebook.

"Whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don't go through American servers," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said.

Bolivian president grounded

Bolivia plans to file a UN complaint after Tuesday's diversion of the president's plane. Sacha Llorenti, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, said Wednesday that the country would register the complaint after several European countries refused to let President Evo Morales' plane cross over their airspace, calling it an act of aggression.

"The decisions of these countries have violated international law, " Bolivia's UN ambassador, Sacha Llorenti, told reporters in Geneva.

The plane stopped in Vienna because France and Portugal revoked clearance for the flight from Moscow late Tuesday night. According to Bolivia, the flight clearance was canceled because of a suspicion that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was on the plane.

UNASUR, the association of Latin American countries, is set to meet to discuss the issue.

French President Francois Hollande said Wednesday he had opened his country's airspace to the Bolivian presidential jet as soon as he knew it carried Morales.

"There was conflicting information about the passengers who were on board," Hollande said in Berlin. "When I knew it was the plane of the Bolivian president, I immediately gave permission for it to fly" over French territory.

Row spreads to Asia

After a report on Wednesday said that the Indian Embassy in Washington had been among the 38 diplomatic missions targeted for surveillance - according to documents leaked by Snowden - India’s Foreign Ministry announced plans to raise the matter with the US.

"We have seen and studied media reports of our embassy in Washington being amongst a list of diplomatic missions which were intrusively monitored by US agencies," Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said. "Obviously we are concerned at such disconcerting reports and we will certainly raise with US authorities these serious allegations," he added.

Other countries typically considered US allies named in the report include Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, France, Italy and Greece.

mkg/rc (Retuers, AFP, dpa, AP)