German security recorded Clinton conversation: media

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German security recorded Clinton conversation: media
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel laugh during a State Luncheon in honor of the German chancellor at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left to right, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, laugh during a State Luncheon in honor of the German chancellor at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton make a toast during a State Luncheon in honor of the German chancellor, Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shares a laugh with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) prior to a meeting at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, April 14, 2011. Clinton is in Berlin to attend the two-day NATO Foreign Ministers meeting. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)
US Secretary of State Hillary R.Clinton, right, meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel for bilateral talks during the Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, listens to a speech as she sits next to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during the OSCE Summit at the Palace of Independence in Astana, Kazakhstan, Wednesday Dec. 1, 2010. The OSCE Summit, the first ever to be held in Central Asia, offers an opportunity to address urgent security challenges including transnational threats such as terrorism and trafficking, and the recent unrest in Kyrgyzstan and the situation in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, smiles as she talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of the OSCE Summit at the Palace of Independence in Astana, Kazakhstan, Wednesday Dec. 1, 2010. The OSCE Summit, the first ever to be held in Central Asia, offers an opportunity to address urgent security challenges including transnational threats such as terrorism and trafficking, and the recent unrest in Kyrgyzstan and the situation in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Clinton takes part in the commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Herbert Knosowski)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, shakes hands with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to a meeting at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, April 14, 2011. Clinton is in Berlin to attend the two-day NATO Foreign Ministers meeting. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)
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(Reuters) - German security agents recorded a conversation involving Hillary Clinton while she was U.S. Secretary of State, media reported on Friday, a potential embarrassment for Berlin which has lambasted Washington for its widespread surveillance.

Clinton's words were intercepted while she was on a U.S. government plane, Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and German regional public broadcasters NDR and WDR said, without giving details of where she was or when the recording was made.

The respected broadsheet quoted German government sources saying the conversation had been picked up "by accident" and was not part of any plan to spy on Washington's top diplomat. The fact the recording had not been destroyed immediately was "idiocy", said one of the sources.

Both Germany's government and a spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House declined to comment on the reports on Friday.

Relations between the United States and Germany were hit last year by revelations by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that Washington spied on German officials and bugged the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The dispute was revived in July when Germany's Federal Prosecutor arrested Markus R., a 31-year old employee of Germany's foreign intelligence agency (BND), on suspicion of spying for the Americans.

Details of the German recording of Clinton's conversation were included in documents that Markus R. had passed on to Washington, said the German media reports, without citing a source for that information.

The newspaper and the radio stations said a joint investigation had discovered the documents also showed Germany's government had ordered the BND to spy on a NATO partner state, without naming the country.

The media reports said U.S. authorities had brought up the affair in recent discussions, including one between current Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Merkel said in an interview last month that the United States and Germany had fundamentally different conceptions of the role of the intelligence service, and she stressed the Cold War was over.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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