x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Clinton 'deeply regrets' WikiLeaks release

The US Secretary of State has also called the potentially embarrassing release of secret cables an attack on the international community.

As friends and foes of the United States turned on WikiLeaks over its release of secret diplomatic cables, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told US allies she "deeply regretted" their release.

The website is believed to hold more than 250,000 classified US files, some containing potentially embarrassing comments about world leaders.

"This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community," Mrs Clinton said following talks with Turkey's foreign minister.

Ahmet Davutoglu, whose visit coincided with the release of the cables, one of which had Washington wondering if it could count on Turkey to contain Iran, stressed the "strategic relationship" between their countries.

Close US allies Britain, France and Germany brushed aside disparaging personal remarks about their leaders contained in the cables.

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

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

And German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters: "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."

But the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said: "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."

Russia also played down being called "a virtual mafia state" where all the decision-making is done by "alpha dog" Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and not President Dmitry Medvedev, described as "Robin to Putin's Batman."

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

In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described those behind the leaks as "criminals, first and foremost" who had committed a "serious" offence.

It was an understatement to say President Barack Obama was "not pleased", he added.

"Obviously, there is an ongoing criminal investigation about the stealing of and the dissemination of sensitive and classified information," he said.