MOSCOW - The United States faces a tough task undoing the damage inflicted by allegations it has spied on leaders of allied countries, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.
Reports that the US National Security Agency tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone and conducted widespread electronic snooping in nations such as France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere have sparked anger among American allies.
"It's not very pleasant when you are spied on ... so the leaders are angry. I understand them," Medvedev told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
Medvedev suggested such spying was not unusual, but he added that "it is assumed that it is not done in such an absolutely cynical way".
"Can the situation be calmed? I think it's possible. But to be honest, no assurances will help here," he said. "What can you say in this situation? 'Sorry, we won't do it anymore' or 'We will not try to listen in on you'? Nobody will believe it."
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