WASHINGTON — Twice since late 2013, President Barack Obama privately assured French President Francois Hollande that the United States had stopped monitoring his communications.
That perhaps softened the impact of new revelations that the National Security Agency eavesdropped on Hollande and his two predecessors.
Hollande’s government went through all of the standard displays of outrage on Wednesday, the day after the disclosures, convening emergency meetings of ministers, military commanders and lawmakers, and summoning U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley to the Foreign Ministry to hear an official protest.
French politicians spewed volleys of anti-U.S. indigation, Hollande telephoned Obama, and his office said that senior French intelligence officials would be dispatched to Washington to discuss improved cooperation.
“France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” said the statement issued by Hollande’s office.
Yet it’s unlikely that the latest revelations of U.S. spying on foreign leaders will damage U.S.-French relations as badly as U.S.-German ties were buffeted in October 2013 when documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that the agency was monitoring the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.