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Snowden row creates challenges for US in Asia, Europe and Americas

France has said it hopes to postpone US-EU trade negotiations amid anger over alleged eavesdropping. The Bolivian president has left Vienna after a diversion, when EU nations suspected his plane harbored Edward Snowden.

It remains unlikely that member states will agree to France's request for a two-week postponement to the start of the free trade talks, set to being next week. The European Commission, which negotiates for the 28 member states, and Germany showed no signs of agreeing. Should they begin on July 8, the talks would come after months of protracted and painful efforts to find a common EU stance on the trade deal.

"It seems wise to us to suspend (the talks) temporarily, for a period of 15 days," French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters Wednesday. She added that France would first "discuss with our European partners to take a joint decision."

Vallaud-Belkacem said that the two sides would have to prove themselves mutually trustworthy before launching talks on such a huge deal, expected to provide a boost to economies on both sides of the Atlantic by removing tariffs and other barriers to trade. Reports from the US whistle-blower Edward Snowden surfaced over the weekend that the US National Security Agency bugged EU diplomatic offices in Washington and infiltrated its computer network.

Germany's top security official said bluntly that, if his countrymen worried about US intelligence agencies snooping on their Internet traffic, then they 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.

'Violated international law'

The diversion of the Bolivian president's plane Tuesday has also sparked a diplomatic row, with the country to file a UN complaint. Sacha Llorenti, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, said Wednesday that the country would file a 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 ... We are already making procedures to denounce this to the UN secretary general," Bolivia's UN ambassador, Sacha Llorenti, told reporters in Geneva.

Morales' plane made an unscheduled stop in Vienna en route to Bolivia because France and Portugal reportedly 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.

Leaders of UNASUR, the association of Latin American countries, have announced plans to meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Row spreads to Asia

Reports that intelligence agencies spied on India's embassy in Washington was described as "disconcerting" by Indian officials. There were plan to raise the matter with the US, the Indian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday. The Indian Embassy in Washington ranked among the 38 diplomatic missions targeted for surveillance, according to documents leaked by the whistle-blower Snowden.

"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)

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