German MPs call for US envoy's firing over WikiLeaks
Deputies from one of Germany's governing parties urged Washington Friday to sack the US ambassador in Berlin, Philip Murphy, in the wake of WikiLeaks revelations that were embarrassing for both governments.
Hans Michael Goldmann, an MP from the Free Democrats (FDP), junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, told the daily Bild that Murphy could no longer serve as an effective go-between.
"Mr Murphy's behaviour is unseemly," Goldmann said. "Such an ambassador should be called home."
Another FDP deputy, Bijan Djir-Sarai, echoed the sentiment: "It is more than doubtful whether Mr Murphy can still be a trustworthy interlocutor."
However Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin would continue to work with Murphy.
"The government is most certainly not calling for the ambassador to be recalled. It is focused on the many tasks that it shares with America, in terms of the global economy, Afghanistan, the G8-G20 process, cooperation in NATO," he told a regular briefing.
"German-US ties are robust."
In the secret US diplomatic cables exposed by WikiLeaks this week, Murphy and others diplomats deride top members of the German government.
In one, Merkel is described as "risk averse and rarely creative" while Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of the FDP, Merkel's vice chancellor, is called incompetent, vain and critical of America.
The FDP said Thursday it had fired Westerwelle's chief of staff at the party headquarters, Helmut Metzner, who was exposed as the source of leaks to the embassy from coalition talks after the September 2009 general election.
Among the indiscretions were a blow-by-blow account of an internal row over disarmament.
Westerwelle had pushed to have the new government demand the United States remove its nuclear weapons from German soil but Merkel dismissed his call as pointless without a broad-based international initiative.
The affair was doubly damaging for Westerwelle because he had said Monday he did not believe his party had a mole in its ranks.
"I don't believe such stories," he said, adding that he "still had quite strong faith in the entire staff of the FDP, and particularly those who were present at the coalition talks".
Westerwelle said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called him last week, before the WikiLeaks publication, to express her "deep regret" about the breach in security.
The FDP, traditionally a small kingmaker party, captured an unprecedented 14.6 percent of the vote in the 2009 election and picked up 32 additional seats in parliament.
But its poll numbers have plummeted to around five percent amid bitter infighting in the coalition.
© 2010 AFP