Germany wants Afghan military leak claims 'examined'

26th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany demanded close scrutiny Monday of claims about Iranian and Pakistani aid to the Taliban, as Britain expressed hopes that leaked documents would not "poison" the Afghan war effort.

"We have to examine what new information there could be" within thousands of secret files released by the Wikileaks website, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said on the sidelines of talks with his EU counterparts.

Westerwelle said the documents, which contain claims of concealed civilian casualties, had given him "comfort in my position, which consisted of never talking up the situation in Afghanistan, which is exceptionally serious."

In Berlin, the defence ministry strongly criticised the leaks and said it was looking into the files.

"Obtaining and releasing documents, some of them secret, on such a scale is a highly questionable practice since it could affect the national security of NATO allies and the whole NATO mission," a defence ministry spokesman said.

"We are examining the countless documents to see if our security interests could also be affected.

"But what has been in the press so far is nothing new," the spokesman, Christian Dienst, told a regular government briefing.

He also played down the impression from some of the 92,000 documents released by whistleblower website Wikileaks that Washington was frustrated by the performance of Germany's 4,600 troops in northern Afghanistan.

"Our cooperation with our American allies is excellent and we complement each other with mutual respect," Dienst said. "This cooperation has further improved noticeably in recent months."

Also speaking in Brussels, Britain's foreign minister William Hague said he hoped the revelations "will not poison" the atmosphere in Afghanistan.

"I haven't seen those in detail, but they should not be damaging to the international effort," he added.

Britain has 9,500 troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led international force, the second largest contingent after the United States. Germany currently has 4,400 troops there.

Some 92,000 documents dating back to 2004 documented the deaths of innocent civilians, how Pakistan's spy agency allowed its agents to meet with the Taliban and how Iran secretly furnished it with money, arms and training.

The leaks prompted a furious reaction from the White House, saying they put the lives of soldiers at risk.

© 2010 AFP

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