At security summit, Clinton talks WikiLeaks
ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN--When Italian Prime Minister Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the sidelines of security summit here, he had one thing on his mind, according to a senior State Department official at the meeting.
The disclosure of more than 250,000 State Department cables included one that essentially called the long-serving Italian magnate a lapdog for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Berlusconi wasn't happy about it, and pointed out that the characterization has spawned "a lot of discussion in Italy."
Clinton hastened to assure Berlusconi that this cable was just one of thousands, and in no way reflected the U.S. government's official view of him. And then after the meeting, she walked out to the reporters standing outside and gushed over the Italian leader.
"We have no better friend, we have no one who supports the American policies as consistently as Prime Minister Berlusconi has, starting in the Clinton administration, through the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration," Clinton said.
And she went on. "Whether it's on Afghanistan, where he has stood with us and provided unstinting support, or the work that he and President Sarkozy and others have done in Europe to try to stabilize the situation in Georgia and on so many other matters, the United States--Republican and Democratic administrations alike--know that they can count on the prime minister to support the policies and values that Italy and the United States share in common."
Kazakh foreign minister Kanat Sandabeyev, on the other hand, shrugged off the controversy over the WikiLeaks disclosure as "the price one has to occasionally to pay in our work."
True, no one called him a lapdog. But one of the leaked cables contained tart observations about the excesses of the Kazakh leadership. Speaking at the end of the security summit, Sandabeyev said "we will be able to live through this incident" and predicted that it would have "no effect" on the strategic relationship between his country and the United States.
Clinton said she had discussed the leaks with many of the world leaders attending the summit, "in order to assure our colleagues that it will not, in any way, intervene in our diplomacy."
She said none of the officials at the summit had suggested they would have any difficulty continuing to work with the United States "and discuss matters of importance going forward."
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