Leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about U.S. surveillance programs sparked outrage overseas, particularly among Europeans who place a premium on personal privacy and civil liberties and recall life under governments that routinely spied on them. The NSA program was the first question he received from the Swedish press.
Obama said additional changes to the programs may be required because of advances in technology. He said his national security team along with an independent board is reviewing everything to strike the right balance between the government's surveillance needs and civil liberties.
"There may be situations in which we're gathering information just because we can that doesn't help us with our national security, but does raise questions in terms of whether we're tipping over into being too intrusive with respect to the ... the interactions of other governments," Obama said. "We are consulting with the (European Union) in this process; we are consulting with other countries in this process and finding out from them what are their areas of specific concern and trying to align what we do in a way that, I think, alleviates some of the public concerns that people may have."
The joint appearance with Reinfeldt was one of several events packed into Obama's whirlwind, 24-hour visit to the Swedish capital to show a softer side of American diplomacy even as the world's gaze remains fixed anxiously on Syria.
He intends to focus in the Nordic nation on climate change, trade and technology, issues on which there is broad consensus with European allies. The topics are a marked departure from the thornier national security and economic matters he's facing back home.