'Illegal' WikiLeaks release won't harm US ties: Germany

29th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany on Monday blasted WikiLeaks' release of US diplomatic cables as illegal and a potential security threat but said even the more embarrassing revelations would not undermine transatlantic ties.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the content of the secret State Department documents, in which US diplomats made disparaging comments about Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials.

But he said the exposure of confidential diplomatic communications, for example about the Iranian nuclear programme or the Middle East peace process, could endanger Western interests.

"We regret this publication -- these are confidential reports that were published illegally and on which we will not comment in detail," Seibert told a regular press briefing. "Foreign policy needs confidentiality."

Foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke added: "It absolutely cannot be ruled out that security interests of our country and security interests of our allies could be compromised by this publication."

He said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Friday to express her "deep regret" about the impending release.

But Seibert said the unflattering depictions of German leaders quoted in the US documents would not drive a wedge between Berlin and Washington.

"The German-American relationship is mature, it has grown so robust over the decades, it is such a deep friendship based on shared values that it will not be seriously damaged by this publication," he said.

The documents include a message attributed to a US diplomat in Berlin dated March 24, 2009 in which Merkel is described as "risk averse and rarely creative."

Westerwelle, Merkel's vice-chancellor, also comes in for harsher criticism in the secret documents, being described as incompetent, vain and critical of America.

© 2010 AFP

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