US allies, Iran savage WikiLeaks for secrets release

29th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Friend and foe alike of the United States on Monday turned on WikiLeaks' over its mass release of secret US diplomatic cables, saying the revelations undermined global diplomacy and made the world less secure.

"This will weaken diplomacy around the world. It will weaken diplomacy in general, but first and foremost American diplomacy. I see this rather as something that is making the world less safe," Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said.

The object of much of the diplomatic discussion revealed by the website, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissed the documents as "worthless mischief" which would not affect Tehran's relations with its Arab neighbours, exposed as having pressed for a US military strike on its nuclear sites.

Afghanistan said its ties with Washington would not be shaken by portrayals of President Hamid Karzai as an "extremely weak" and paranoid leader and his brother as a corrupt drugs baron.

"We don't see anything substantive in the document that will strain the relationship," Karzai's spokesman Waheed Omer told reporters.

France condemned the leaks as "irresponsible" and described them as "an attack on states' sovereignty."

Close US allies Britain, France and Germany brushed aside disparaging personal remarks about their leaders contained in the cables. One example referred to President Nicolas Sarkozy as "thin-skinned and authoritarian."

Britain slammed the release as damaging to national security, but said it will continue to work closely with Washington.

British newspaper The Guardian, which has begun publishing the documents along with several other media outlets worldwide, says that upcoming memos give "embarrassing" US views of Prime Minister David Cameron and "weak" ex-leader Gordon Brown.

"A few gossipy comments about European politicians are not exactly welcome but they are not really important. But in other cases, people's lives could be put at risk," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters.

Ahmadinejad told a press conference broadcast live on state TV that "the documents that they released are a mischief. We do not see any value in them. This act is worthless."

"We are friends with the regional countries and mischievous acts will not affect relations," he said.

Israel, which has long waged a diplomatic war on Tehran, said the releases merely proved its concerns about a nuclear Iran were shared across the Arab world.

The documents showed that Saudi Arabia had repeatedly urged a US military strike to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"The Arab countries are pushing the United States towards military action more forcefully than Israel," said an Israeli official.

Likewise Russia played down being called "a virtual mafia state" where all the decision-making is done by "alpha dog" Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and not the president, who "plays Robin to Putin's Batman."

"Our own diplomats are sometimes just as open in their own private messages to each other," an unidentified Kremlin official told the Kommersant business daily.

Experts said the leaks would likely change the way diplomats worked.

"The scale of the leaks is impressive, and we can't help but ask whether that will change way diplomats write their telegrams in future," said Pascal Boniface, of the Institute of Strategic and International Relations.

"Perhaps it calls into question the whole idea of the diplomatic cable? It's a hard blow for the United States. It's diplomatically embarrassing, not a major diplomatic defeat, but it exposes them in a negative way."

In Stockholm, Bildt, a former UN special envoy for the Balkans, said "there is a need for confidential communication between different governments ... to be able to handle crises and difficult situations. We are not going to be able to have that now."

"Then we will be stuck with megaphone diplomacy, which I know from experience can lead to more conflicts and more problems."


© 2010 AFP

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