NSA review: Panel recommends new tests before US eavesdrops on foreign leaders

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - An outside panel appointed by the White House to review the eavesdropping National Security Agency's operations recommended on Wednesday new criteria that should be met before the United States engages in surveillance of foreign leaders.

Before spying on such leaders, US officials should determine if there are other ways to obtain the necessary information and weigh the negative effects if the surveillance becomes public, panel members wrote in one of 46 recommendations.

The panel, whose members met with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the White House, also called for limits on a US government program that collects "metadata" - or basic call information - on billions of telephone calls.

It said the US government should explore agreements on spying practices "with a small number of closely allied governments."