Merkel slammed by US as 'risk averse': WikiLeaks
Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks to German news magazine Der Spiegel include embarrassingly frank US assessments of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is described as a weak leader.
In a message attributed to a US diplomat in Berlin dated March 24, 2009, the State Department is told that Merkel is "risk averse and rarely creative", Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.
"The Americans argue that the chancellor views international diplomacy above all from the perspective of how she can profit from it domestically," the magazine wrote.
Merkel's vice-chancellor and foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, comes in for harsher criticism in the secret documents and is described as incompetent, vain and critical of America, Der Spiegel said.
An embassy cable from Berlin from September 22, 2009, days before the general election that put him in office, describes Westerwelle as having an "exuberant personality" but little foreign policy experience.
"That is why he finds it difficult to take a backseat when it comes to any matters of dispute with Chancellor Angela Merkel," the cable quoted by Der Spiegel says.
Meanwhile Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany's most popular politician, is quoted as telling the US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, in February 2010 that Westerwelle was the real barrier to a US request for an increase in the number of German troops in Afghanistan.
Zu Guttenberg also disparages his boss, saying that Merkel has trouble implementing her own economic policies.
And Horst Seehofer, the head of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats, is shown as unaware that half of 40,000 US troops in Germany are based in his state, which he also governs.
The State Department documents show Washington was kept abreast of coalition negotiations by an informant while Merkel was forming her current government in October 2009.
A German diplomatic source said that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called Westerwelle on Friday to "express her regret about the impending publication of internal US documents".
© 2010 AFP