US ambassador to Berlin seeks to cap WikiLeaks damage
The US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, sought Wednesday to stem the diplomatic damage from awkward cables on WikiLeaks, calling the maligned foreign minister "a friend".
Amid demands for his sacking, Murphy called the release of the documents featuring frank opinions about German leaders "embarrassing and deeply uncomfortable", in an interview with people magazine Bunte.
In cables from Berlin signed by Murphy, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is also Germany's vice chancellor, comes in for the most withering criticism, branded incompetent, vain and critical of America.
But Murphy insisted his relations with Westerwelle had not suffered.
"He is a true friend," Murphy is quoted as saying. "I have great respect for him. These comments are only snapshots and do not take the entire picture, the great German-American film, into account. Guido Westerwelle knows this."
Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and a major fundraiser for US President Barack Obama, has faced calls from deputies from Westerwelle's Free Democrats for Washington to recall him.
Merkel's spokesman said Friday that the government did not share these views, calling US-German ties "robust".
Meanwhile comments by Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle in which he compared the vast collection of US diplomatic cables with the practice of the despised East German Stasi secret police of keeping copious records on its citizens sparked a barrage of critical questions at a government briefing Wednesday.
"Some of what I read on WikiLeaks reminds me of the collecting mania that former institutions in the East, including the Stasi, had," Bruederle told a conference Tuesday.
A ministry spokeswoman said Bruederle intended to criticise WikiLeaks' practices, not the United States.
© 2010 AFP