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Ukraine overshadows NSA rift ahead of Obama-Merkel talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Barack Obama arrive at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on June 19, 2013German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets US President Barack Obama this week with shared fears over the mounting Ukraine crisis helping to mend ties ruptured by the NSA eavesdropping scandal. As tensions between Russia and the West unseen since the Cold War threaten to boil over, officials and analysts said ahead of Merkel’s two-day visit starting Thursday that Ukraine had given Obama and the German leader common purpose after a difficult half year. Possibilities for bringing pressure to bear on Russian President Vladimir Putin — including economic sanctions — and progress on agreeing a major transatlantic trade accord known as TTIP are just two of the main issues on the agenda, a senior Merkel aide said Tuesday. It is Merkel’s first trip to Washington since revelations by fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that her mobile phone was also targeted in sweeping overseas surveillance by the US National Security Agency.

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