The National Security Agency, responsible for US electronic eavesdropping, said this evening that it does not target the Vatican, and called an Italian media report that it had done so "not true."

"The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true," agency spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in a statement.

Panorama magazine said that the NSA had eavesdropped on Vatican phone calls, possibly including when former Pope Benedict's successor was under discussion. The Holy See said it had no knowledge of any such activity.

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