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Swedish diplomat: new WikiLeaks 'regrettable'

Swedish diplomat: new WikiLeaks 'regrettable'

Published: 29 Nov 2010 10:49 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Nov 2010 13:06 GMT+01:00

Former Swedish ambassador to Washington Rolf Ekéus said he feared WikiLeaks' publication of confidential diplomatic correspondence could result in fewer contacts being willing to provide diplomats with vital information.

"Diplomats don't write memoirs. It may matter who provides information to diplomats. If they know they may be published to critique, they may dry up. It's sad for those who are exposed, who were trusting, to keep up a dialogue between countries, it's not good at all," Ekéus told The Local on Monday.

He added, however, that he didn't expect the release of the documents to seriously damage Swedish-American relations.

The documents, many of which cover the Swedish presidency of the European Union in 2009, include observations that Sweden was the leader of a handfull of European countries to oppose sanctions on Iran at a meeting in Brussels in 2009.

Swedish newspaper Expressen, which has reviewed many of the documents, also revealed that the US Embassy in Stockholm sent detailed reports to Washington on late foreign minister Anna Lindh, outlining her criticism of the American war on terror.

Sweden only features in any meaningful way in 819 of the 250,000 documents obtained from the US SIPRNet intelligence database. Of these, about 671 were sent by the US Embassy in Stockholm.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was warned by US diplomats that documents concerning Sweden could be released in the leak. Writing on his blog on Monday morning, Bildt said the publication would have negative consequences well beyond the US State Department.

"The intention behind this publication cannot have been anything other than to damage American diplomacy, although the effect with really be to damage diplomacy in general," he wrote.

Bildt's press spokeswoman Anna Charlotta Johansson told The Local that Bildt would not make any more comments on WikiLeaks on Monday.

Former Swedish foreign minister and Ekéus' successor as Sweden's ambassador in Washington Jan Eliasson also warned that the leak could negatively affect the conduct of diplomacy.

"It's hard to preserve the trust needed within diplomacy when you know that confidential conversations risk coming out. It's going to affect the quality of the reporting," Eliasson told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

"Diplomacy shouldn't be vague and focused on gossip, but rather clear and graspable – like cold water, as I usually say. That type of reporting is what one expects."

Ekéus called the latest WikiLeaks disclosures "regrettable," but revealed his ambivalence about the organisation on the whole.

"It is too early to make a judgment. I was relatively positive about the initial disclosures of warfare, the fact that there was suffering and that mistakes led to serious attacks. This is terrible and it is important that they publish them, I congratulate them," he said.

"But on diplomacy, this is about keeping peace. I don't see the common value in that, but the common harm. It is one thing about what is in the findings. It's another thing that it's a leak," Ekéus added.

He was the director of the UN Special Commission on Iraq from 1991 to 1997, which served was the UN disarmanent observers in Iraq after the Gulf War, and has also chaired the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

"It's one thing to kill and carry out warfare, it has to do with the past. You talk diplomacy, to solve problems, work to avoid violence," said Ekéus.

Regarding the contents of the new documents, he said there were no major revelations, but was surprised that highly confidential diplomatic correspondence was exposed.

Nevertheless, Ekéus felt that bilateral relations between Sweden and the United States would weather any storm caused by the documents.

"I don't know if relations will be seriously damaged. There can be details that are irritating, but diplomats have the freedom to make their judgments, they have the privilege and right to make their assessments. I must be able to trust using diplomacy as a tool," he said.

Ekéus added that Sweden has managed with close to 200 years of peace as a result of successful solutions through diplomatic negotiations.

Particular matters of interest to him were new details about the Koreas, Middle East and EU, as well as judgments on Russia and world leaders that have not been previously reported.

To Ekéus, the most surprising revelations in the documents were the "great nervousness" expressed about the Iranian nuclear programme and whether it is moving towards manufacturing weapons.

"It probably shouldn't surprise you either, but it is how the concern is expressed," he said.

Other disclosures from the latest leaks that Ekéus considered of merit addressed the weapons in North Korea and the Korean peninsula, as well as the possibility of the reunification of the Koreas.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

11:51 November 29, 2010 by RobinHood
It's like watching history without having to wait about for it. Who would have thought Hillary Clinton would ask her diplomats to perform low-level spook work stealing DNA samples from UN representatives? What on earth did the State Department want with their DNA anyway? Or that Gaddafi has a voluptuous blonde Ukrainian "nurse" who never leaves his side. Or that the President of Chechnya danced at a wedding with a gold plated 9mm automatic stuffed down the front of his trousers? Thank you America, and thank you Wikileaks for helping to get this stuff into the public domain.

How on earth was the American government dumb enough to have these documents stored in a place where up to three million US government employees could access it? Right in the middle of a "War on Terror". It has got to be the biggest, dumbest, most embarrassing, most damaging, security breach ever.

Poor JA. No one can humiliate the USA like this and get away with it. Forget Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, all is forgiven; every drone the US owns is currently buzzing about looking for JA. Every US spook is on JA stake out, and the CIA are brushing the dust of their water boarding equipment. The Swedish prosecutors office is right now wishing they had never heard of JA and are having panic meetings with the Swedish foreign office about what they are going to do with their arrest warrant for "The Most Wanted Man on Earth." What if he actually turns up in Sweden? How will they keep him safe? Do they want to? How can they hand him over to the US without guarantees for his safety? What will they say when he has an "accident"? Swedish prosecutors take note; what a tangled web we weave when we practise to deceive. You made this mess of a prosecution, now you can live with the diplomatic consequences. No wonder Carl Bildt is a bit peeved, he is going to need every bit of his long diplomatic experience to get Sweden out of this mess. Nice one The Local for your understated headline above.

If someone made this story up, no one would believe them. Who has the film rights?
12:09 November 29, 2010 by grantike
what is in this document i do not care but what are the motives of people revealing this document.these files are classified why do i want to know what is inside .

The intention behind this publication cannot have been anything other than to damage American diplomacy, although the effect with really be to damage diplomacy in general."

after that what next
12:24 November 29, 2010 by Luckystrike

" what are the motives of people revealing this document ? "

To show the world how war hungry and stupid Americans really are
13:16 November 29, 2010 by NickM
Interesting. So, Olof Palme was hated by American Gov = assassinated. Anna Lindh was hated by the American Gov = assassinated. I think I'm starting to see a pattern emerge here.
13:17 November 29, 2010 by calebian22
I love how Wikileaks is a good thing as long as it only reflects poorly on the US. As soon as it reflects closer to home, diplomats start talking about how it will impact diplomacy and that caution and responsibility should be a consideration. Hilarious!
13:56 November 29, 2010 by mojofat
People who say things like, "To show the world how war hungry and stupid Americans really are" are really just like those they mock: narrow minded bigots.
14:01 November 29, 2010 by heroine
US deserve this for being so cavalier with their sensitive information. Everybody and his kid brother knows the internet is public property, that hackers like Assange are a dime a dozen. I shudder to think what else our geniuses in Washington pipe through the internet besides embarassing diplomatic tidbits. What are you going to do about this, Hillary?

All the leaders don't dare to voice out against the US, they are scared.

The truth painfully hurts.

Long life to Wikileaks....! I am loving it.
14:13 November 29, 2010 by marianne667
Clinton should resign immediately. Doing underhanded things when needed OK but being stupid and careless not OK. Please American straighten out your act!
14:28 November 29, 2010 by Twiceshy
Governments keep spying on us, it's refreshing to see the reverse happening once in a while. Go Wikileaks!

Furthermore, maybe this episode will get countries to trust the US less with their confidential information. Hopefully this affects decisions related to, for example, the sharing of personal banking data with US "anti-terrorism" authorities and the such.
14:28 November 29, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Just a little bit of what everybody knows, anyway, my two cents worth:

Bush said : “You are either with us (US) or with the terrorists”

The Rt. Hon. Carl Bildt is predictable here. He is not with the terrorists.

I too hate the on-going war but at the end of the day we are on the same side, trying to cool things down, trying to bring the war to an end and to go for peace talks as quickly as possible: trying to hasten the transition of the security situation from the uncertainties of chaos & bloodshed of an

“occupation by foreign troops” to a more peaceful and democratic situation in which law and order and respect for Human Rights is maintained by Afghan security forces that are trained and equipped to protect the sacred lives and limbs of their own people.

Rolf Ekeus' remarks are surprising.

What says Hans Blix?

It's unfortunate that it's just one man ( Assange) already on the run for alleged rape, that has to be crucified for the bigger charge looming over his head: the one responsible these very damaging leakages. It's not as if by merely hanging him up side down, having life snuffed out of the poor sod would be the end of the matter. Since it's not a one man gang, the unanswered question remains: Who is ultimately behind it/ him?

A most interesting aspect of the leakage is this bit which at least alerts the world to the potential dangers of Iran as a nuclear war power in the area – the Islamization of nuclear weaponry at the service of jihad – nuclear weapons under the control an Islamic nation with a potentially ( national) suicide-bomber mentality and a martyrology complex - a nation that supports Hamas & Hezbollah, and does not want “ a two state solution” - a nation dedicated to down-sizing the “Great and little Satan” ( USA & - God forbid, Israel). Such a scenario, far worse than North Korea having nuclear weapons, should it come to pass would be the Wild West's worst nightmare come true . It could bring some uncertainties to the West's unimpeded supply of oil which the West will continue to need for some years to come. A long and uncertain period of military adventures there could bring havoc to the world's economy.

Perhaps, therefore this headline:

“Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah urged the US to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities”:


This shows the real danger of a nuclear Iran to the whole area, also to Europe and to Iran itself (and the people of Iran). During the Iraq- Iran war ( started by Iraq) nearly all the Sunni nations supported Iraq. A nuclear Iran would definitely accelerate the nuclear arms race in the region and also tempt Iran - should they be the first to acquire nuclear weapons - to become the Islamic world's de facto leader – on the basis of their having such weapons to act as a deterrent ( so that US doesn't invade and take them as “a piece of cake” - as they did Iraq. ( of course if Saddam had had nuclear weapons ( of mass destruction) George W would have thought twice before invading. Iran's diplomacy after such an acquisition of nuclear weapons would always be backed by that kind of threat and would result in prolonged conventional warfare in that area, i.e. they would then always bring their nuclear weapons to any negotiating table..

The greatest danger is still the idea of a nuclear power called Iran wanting to “ wipe out “ another member of the United Nations, ISRAEL – no matter how those words are interpreted.

South Arabia is aware that they are Iran's main rivals whilst Israel is ostensibly Iran's main enemy – at least for now that is what Iran says to gather an Islamic following.

And if , lets say there was peace in the Middle East tomorrow, what would Iran do with nuclear weapons?
15:14 November 29, 2010 by Luckystrike
OMG, a Israeli who hates Iran........Next!
16:05 November 29, 2010 by adigunbabatunde@yahoo.com
while many may be willing to give kudos to wikileak, we must not forget the probable implications especially on the innocents.

beacause when Iran decides to bomb saudi it will not the the palace of the king but the helpless, defenseless and innocent people they will aim at. at the end of the day what they taught was good work will be evil. Cos 90.
16:34 November 29, 2010 by Syftfel
It seems to me that the only ones giving kudos to wikileaks are socialists, marxists, anarchists, illegal aliens, terrorists, Iran-lovers, and other assorted, undesirable, criminal, riff-raff. Decent people with any sense of honest values want this treasonous dog, Assange, to end up in the hands of the American justice system where he would get his dues. Life in prison. No parole. If anyone dies as a result of his cowardly act, he should have an electrocardiogram connected, and a needle in his vein with a dab of sodium thiopental flowing through it. So long JA!
17:00 November 29, 2010 by americanska
Indeed this latest leak just goes to show that now matter how up their own a$$ a country is about taking the moral high ground. They all bad mouth Iran and North Korea, and they all want the US to take care of their problems for them.
17:07 November 29, 2010 by grantike
i do not like calling people names but this is so wrong.and so called Julian wants to come here and live.that will not happen.i just hope they catch him and prosecute him immediately
19:38 November 29, 2010 by mojofat
@americanska Quite true. All the cool kids hate the USA until someone bigger starts picking on them.

I was somewhat for the release of the war records because that really is a stain on America's reputation (thanks George W.!) and perhaps by getting full disclosure on that period it can be prevented in the future. However, this release is different. Diplomacy is an instrument for maintaining peace and preventing war, by undermining that process through this release wikileaks is actually doing its part to prevent that process. If nations cannot speak to one another through these channels then it's far more likely they will talk to each other through guns...eventually.

I find it very curious that wikileaks will not reveal its source of funding. Who is paying for all of this bandwidth and server space? How does Julian support his global travels and hair dye? Why is an organization that wraps itself in the flag of openness and full disclosure not reveal the money that's driving their mission? I guess one answer is that it's some free information patron, perhaps a billionaire who made his money in software. It's also likely that it's someone with ulterior motives...wreaking havoc on the world's ability to conduct diplomacy would certainly be advantageous for certain groups.
20:23 November 29, 2010 by americanska
21:01 November 29, 2010 by Auga
If these were Chinese, Iranian, North Korean or Russia documents, Wikileak would be in Oslo next year collecting the Nobel Peace Prize.
23:22 November 29, 2010 by thebittertruth
@Auga..you are very right. On another note, these leaks are the beginning of the fall of the great Empire. America! America! your sins have become too many that you wrote chapters for your own self destruction and archived them .Today the truth behind the release of these so called classified documents haunt you so much that you stand by and marvel over your own ability to destroy your reputation. Read the book of Revelation and learn a bit about the harlot and the destruction of Babylon the great. Do you find any patterns? How true it is that the mighty always fall at the hands of the infirm.
07:15 November 30, 2010 by prince T
This leak is a dangerous trend and I dont understand why people are so excited about it. Most of the things exposed were information during the negotiation level and most of them never came to fruition. I dont know why we have to expose everything to promote friction.
11:16 November 30, 2010 by Alf Garnett
Let the electorate see what these politician are coniving to in our name, bet it has no relevance to their elctoral promises.
15:57 November 30, 2010 by Prat
The problem is that "diplomats" are not always diplomatic and focused on keeping peace. They are agents directed by their home government to organize a range of operations. Over past decades around the world there've been many cases where diplomats from many nations are declared persona non grata and forced to return home, in some cases they've actively worked to destabilize their host nation. The recall procedure might be managed bilaterally very quietly and go unreported.

Embassies have a range of personnel, we should assume they are paid apologists for their nation. Finally, many U.S. ambassadors are businesspeople, friends & donors to key politicians, without diplomatic training (often without local language or area studies background) when appointed. We salute their service, and most try to act professionally, but what can we expect?
17:04 November 30, 2010 by creamy
The Freedom of Information Act in the U.S. is important. There really should be nothing to hide. It is called honesty.
10:44 December 1, 2010 by Nomark

There certainly is quite some evidence that America is on the decline. However, I'm not sure that this really is something to celebrate.

I'm rather grateful to the US for its help during my lifetime. Having half of Europe occupied by the Soviet Union and being forced to adhere to a failed and oppressive system of governance was bad. However, at least it wasn't my half. Even now, American forces in Europe contribute to the stability of the region.

If America should fall I would be unhappy about what would follow. The other major economic and military powers have even less of a regard for human rights than the US.

Also, its worth pointing out that the very reason why wikileaks is able to operate in the first place is because of free societies which allowed it to be developed. Governments of these free societies may look askance at the site but there is little they can do about it. Had we lived in a world dominated by China, the site would have come down long ago and those involved would have spent time in prison or been sent to the countryside for reeducation. Here, I take the example of the student demonstrators from the 1989 demonstrations. Certainly, activists for openness are doing their best in China but their lives are filled with real danger. Ordinary folk like Zhao Gang and Liu Ning are the real heroes in the battle for freedom,

The issue of American's conduct is a subtle one. To look at certain aspects of it in isolation and to ignore historical and geopolitical realities is very, very weak.

I suggest that the bitter truth is quite a bit more complex and worrying than you realise.
00:02 December 5, 2010 by mikewhite
But we knew a few years ago that Kofi Annan was being bugged, since the UK MP Claire Short mentioned it - BBC News link
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