Governments around the world were struggling Monday to digest and
react to the detail of more than 250,000 leaked US diplomatic
documents - with more revelations threatened in the weeks to come.
The most common reaction from capitals around the world was to
stonewall, with officials and diplomats urging a "wait and see"
approach as they ploughed through the cables.
However, almost universally, WikiLeaks, and its founder Julian
Assange, were criticized for putting delicate international
relations - and secrets - at risk.
The most damaging revelations so far - published by The Guardian
(Britain), Der Spiegel (Germany), El Pais (Spain), Le Monde
(France) and New York Times (US) - are about US attempts to spy on
the UN, fears of nuclear proliferation from Pakistan, mafia links
to the Russian administration, plus countless undiplomatic
evaluations of world leaders from Angela Merkel to Moamer Gadaffi.
In India - about which more than 3,000 cables were leaked - a
government spokesman conceded that Delhi had been warned in
advance by Washington that they would be mentioned in the leaks.
"We were warned by the US that such documents were going to be
released. We have good bilateral relations with the US. This is a
sensitive issue and I won't comment on it till we know more,"
Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur told
In Pakistan, a government spokesman denied the claims made in the
reports that the US was engaged in a desperate struggle to remove
nuclear materials from the country before they fell into the hands
of terrorists and Islamists.
"I condemn this. Such sensitive documents should not have been
disclosed this way," said Abdul Basit, a spokesman of Pakistan's
"The context of these documents show very clearly that Pakistani
leadership knows very well how to defend its nuclear programme. We
have very well guarded our national interests and will keep on
doing so in the coming years," said Basit.
Whilst Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was reported to
have "laughed off" criticism that he was "feckless, vain and
ineffective", according to one of his ministers, the reaction of
another target of US criticism, Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, was more typical.
The leaks were "questionable ... that's why we're waiting to see
what comes from WikiLeaks. Then we can evaluate it and give an
opinion", Erdogan said before leaving Istanbul for a summit in
Erdogan was described as surrounded by sycophants, lacking
"vision" and "analytic depth" in the cables, with suggestions his
cabinet was more Islamist than was internationally-recognised.
In Russia, whose Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was described as an
"alpha dog" compared with the "pale and hesitant" President Dmitry
Medvedev, spokesman Dmitry Peskov joined the ranks of those
refusing to comment, calling it "premature" until the documents
had been analysed.
That story was largely echoed in Paris, Berlin and other capitals
who leaders had been unflatteringly described.
One notable exception was Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
whose country was reportedly recommended by Saudi Arabia for
bombing over its disputed nuclear programme.
"We do not bother to take these documents seriously and they will
have no impact on our relations (with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain),"
he told a news conference.
"These documents follow certain political aims and are some sort
of intelligence game and therefore without any legal basis," he
In Israel, the government in Tel Aviv refused point blank to
comment on the leaks - although the country's media pointed out
that several damaging allegations about Iran could only help
In Europe - away from the world's hotspots - the reaction was also
In Berlin, whose Chancellor Merkel was described as "not very
creative" and whose Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was called
"aggressive", there was no direct reaction from the individuals
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert instead told reporters that
the relationship between Berlin and Washington was "robust, close
and in no way clouded by this publication".
Berlin nevertheless "regrets the publication of these confidential
reports", he added.
In London, the prime minister's spokesman condemned the
publication as "damaging to national security in the United States
and in Britain, and elsewhere".
"It's important that governments are able to operate on the basis
of confidentiality of information," he added.
But asked if David Cameron was offended by the material contained
in the leaks, he added: "We are not going to get drawn into the
detail of the documents."