WikiLeaks exposes U.S., shows India kept out of key meet

Tuesday, 30 November 2010, 06:45 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: A cache of a quarter-million US cables released by WikiLeaks has exposed secret back-room maneuvering by the U.S. and has dramatically revealed how India was kept out of a key meeting on Afghanistan that was held in Turkey.

Among the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, 3,038 are from the U.S. embassy in India. Other cables pertain to communications from U.S. missions in Islamabad, Colombo and Kathmandu.

India was one of the countries reached out by top U.S. diplomats before the much anticipated release of what the New York Times described as "an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders".

"We have reached out to India to warn them about a possible release of documents," State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said ahead of their publication Sunday, triggering condemnation from the White House and congressional leaders.

The US had warned WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange that publishing the papers would be illegal and endanger peoples' lives.

A secret cable from the U.S. embassy in Ankara showed that India was kept out of the Jan 25 meeting held in Turkey on Afghanistan to appease Pakistan, though Islamabad was of the view that excluding India from such regional structures would be a mistake.

At a meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, then Turkey's deputy under secretary for Bilateral Political Affairs, responsible for the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, Rauf Engin Soysal, said Turkey had not invited India to the Afghanistan Neighbours Summit "in deference to Pakistani sensitivities".

"He (Soysal) said Turkey had not invited India to the neighbours summit in deference to Pakistani sensitivities; however, he claimed, Pakistan understands attempting to exclude India from the nascent South Asian regional structures would be a mistake," Guardian quoted the message dated Feburary 25, 2010 as saying.

Zardari met Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai at an international conference in Istanbul that kicked off on January 25 this year.

"He (Soysal) reported Indian Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh had requested (Turkish) President (Abdullah) Gul's assistance with Pakistan during the latter's visit to New Delhi the previous week. Acting on that request, Gul had phoned Pakistani President Zardari, who was sceptical of Indian intentions. Gul is planning to visit Pakistan later this year."

"Soysal said Iran is proposing a quadrilateral summit, which would include Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that proposal had yet to generate enthusiasm," the secret cable said.

Among the 251,287 cables provided by WikiLeaks to The New York Times, 2,278 cables are from the U.S. mission in Kathmandu, 3,325 from Colombo and 2,220 from Islamabad.

Many are unclassified, and none are marked "top secret", the government's most secure communications status. But some 11,000 are classified "secret", 9,000 are labelled "noforn", shorthand for material considered too delicate to be shared with any foreign government, and 4,000 are designated both secret and "noforn".

Publishing the documents would jeopardise "our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government", White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Source: IANS
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