The official did not address past surveillance of the world body. Such programs are highly classified, although some details have been leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
According to the first official, the president's aides have said in briefings that the White House no longer wanted to conduct certain monitoring of U.N. targets. The official said that the decision was made within the last few weeks.
U.S. officials also told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that allegations of spying in France and Spain can be explained by the fact that those countries gathered intelligence themselves and then shared it with the National Security Agency for security purposes.