President Barack Obama has been fending off international criticism about the NSA spying on foreign leaders, but French President Francois Hollande must not mind as much, as NSA Director Keith Alexander is on the guest list for Tuesday's banquet honoring the visiting leader.
It might not have been a good idea to have Alexander drinking wine in the same dinner party if the guest instead was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been outraged in recent months following reports that the NSA monitored her phone. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff canceled her state visit to the U.S. in 2013 following reports that the NSA spied on her phone calls.
No reports have indicated whether the NSA monitored Hollande’s phone calls, but the French president seemed at ease speaking about U.S. surveillance during a joint news conference with Obama on Tuesday. Hollande’s visit with Obama is an effort by the two leaders to show a stronger international partnership following tensions that spiked during the Bush administration, when France refused to join the U.S. in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Hollande said during the news conference on Tuesday that he and Obama are increasing their partnership in the fight against terrorism and "mutual trust has been restored" between the leaders following the NSA spying reports.
"Mutual trust must
be based on respect for each other's country, but also based on the protection
of private life, of personal data," Hollande said.