Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Clinton to keep phoning leaders over WikiLeaks

AFP and Reuters, Shannon, Ireland

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has contacted dozens of foreign leaders since the latest WikiLeaks disclosures, will continue to do so, she told journalists traveling with her yesterday.

“I haven’t seen everybody in the world, and apparently there are 252,000 of these things [leaks] out there in cyberspace somewhere,” she said, noting with a smile that they had not yet all been published.

“So I think I’ll have some outreach to continue doing over the next weeks just to make sure that as things become public, if they raise concerns, I will be prepared to reach out and talk to my counterparts and heads of state and governments,” she went on. “I take on the responsibility because I’m talking to them anyway. I’ve invested a lot of efforts in building these relationships I really believe that we had to re-establish trust, to re-establish relationships, so I take this very personally.”

Clinton was talking to journalists on the plane taking her back to Washington after a trip to Central Asia and Bahrain during which she came under constant pressure over the leaks.

“I’m not making light of it [but] what you see are our diplomats doing the work of diplomacy, reporting, analyzing ... in a way, it should be reassuring, despite the occasional tidbit that is pulled out and unfortunately blown up,” Clinton said. “The work of diplomacy is on display. It was not our intention to release this way [but] there’s a lot to be said for what it shows about the foreign policy of the United States.”

The US secretary of state had a rare chance to interact with Iran’s foreign minister at a Bahrain security conference, which Clinton used to deliver a message to Tehran on the need to engage with the international community over its nuclear program at next week’s talks in Geneva.

However, while Clinton’s keynote speech from the podium directly addressed the Iranian team led by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, her attempt at a more personal diplomacy with Mottaki fell distinctly flat.

“I got up to leave and he was sitting a couple of seats down from me and shaking people’s hands and he saw me and he stopped and began to turn away,” Clinton told reporters as she returned to Washington. “I said ‘Hello, minister.’ He just turned away.”

Clinton’s Bahrain speech on Friday came ahead of next week’s Geneva meeting between Iran and six big powers — the US, France, Russia, Britain, China and Germany — their first such encounter in more than a year.

The big powers insist that the talks must focus on Iran’s nuclear program, which they fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

Iranian officials have indicated that they are not eager to discuss their atomic work, which they say is entirely peaceful, leaving prospects for the Geneva meeting in doubt.

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