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Germany

US Acknowledges Need to Respond to Secret Prison Reports

The United States acknowledged Tuesday European concerns over reports of CIA secret prisons and transport flights for terror suspects and said mounting questions "need to be responded to."

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Washington says it will explain

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that Washington would reply to an expected formal query from the European Union on the matter, her spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"The United States realizes that these are topics that are generating interest among European publics as well as parliaments, and that these questions need to be responded to," McCormack told reporters.

"We understand that the presidency of the European Union is going to be sending an inquiry to the United States concerning these issues and the secretary assured the foreign minister that the United States would respond to that inquiry."

Few details forthcoming

McCormack did not give any details of the US response. Nor did he say whether Rice discussed Tuesday specifics of the secret prison reports that are likely to dog her five-day swing through Europe next week.

But he said, "Secretary Rice assured the foreign minister that United States activities complied with all US laws and the constitution and that we complied with our international

obligations."

Steinmeier, whose government has raised concerns over reported CIA flights transporting Islamic extremists via Germany, gave few details of his discussion with Rice on the matter. "There will be a timely response (by the United States) to the expected letter of the British colleague Jack Straw" on behalf of EU, he said. "We will have to evaluate this response then."

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