Britain says US ties strong despite WikiLeaks release
Britain will continue to work closely with the United States despite the expected release by WikiLeaks of unflattering US memos about Prime Minister David Cameron, the premier's spokesman said Monday.
Cameron's spokesman condemned the leaking of the classified US diplomatic cables as damaging for national security, while the foreign ministry said it could put lives at risk.
"We work very closely with the United States and other governments and we will continue to do that," Cameron's spokesman told journalists.
Asked if Cameron was going to be offended by the content of the cables, the spokesman said: "We have been briefed by the US embassy here on the content of these cables so we are aware of that.
"We are not going to get drawn into commenting on details."
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 Cameron and "weak" ex-leader Gordon Brown.
Cameron's spokesman said the leaks were "inhibiting the conduct of governments."
"Clearly we condemn the unauthorised release of classified information. The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere," he said.
"Governments need to be able to operate on a confidential basis when dealing with this kind of information and the very fact that it has been leaked is damaging."
Britain's Foreign Office made similar comments on Sunday, saying the leaks "can damage national security, are not in the national interest and, as the US have said, may put lives at risk."
The documents also reportedly concern Britain's Prince Andrew, the fourth in line to the throne, who has been an unpaid trade envoy for the British government since 2001.
The US cables cite "inappropriate remarks by Prince Andrew about a UK law enforcement agency and a foreign country", The Guardian said, without giving further details.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment but a palace source told The Daily Mail newspaper: "We are awaiting further detail, as everyone is."
The US ambassador to Britain Louis Susman on Sunday condemned the document release and said it would not affect relations between London and Washington.
"I am confident that our uniquely productive relationship with the United Kingdom will remain close and strong, focused on promoting our shared objectives and values," he said in a statement.
WikiLeaks is releasing more than 250,000 embassy cables in stages over the next few months, with the Guardian saying it will publish more documents daily over the next two weeks.
Cameron's spokesman said they "anticipate several more days of disclosures."
© 2010 AFP