Little To Fear in WikiLeaks Papers, Gov’t Says

As US officials yesterday continued efforts to control the damage from the release of a quarter million private diplomatic communications, the government spokesman here said Cambodian authorities feared no embarrassment from the disclosures.

The US State Department has established a task force to respond to the global uproar created by the disclosure of purloined diplomatic communications covering over 40 years, a department spokesman told reporters in Washington on Monday.

“As far as I know we had no secret deals with the USA,” government spokesman Khieu Kanharith wrote in an e-mail. “Sometimes there were exchange of information. But what will be leaking out from WikiLeaks is not our concern.”

Cambodian officials reacted with unusual anger in 2009 after US Ambassador Carol Rodley publicly said Cambodia lost $500 million in revenue a year due to corruption. Their reaction to the disclosure of more candid remarks remains to be seen.

In the 777 cables generated by the US Embassy since 1992 that WikiLeaks is preparing to disclose, there is frequent discussion of sensitive matters.

According to coding attached to individual cables made available in spreadsheets published on the Internet by the newspaper The Guardian, a string of over 30 diplomatic cables written at the embassy between October 2008 and February of this year appear to discuss military aid and human rights vetting of Cambodian military units.

The messages, which have yet to be released, are flagged with the topics “Military and Defense Arrangements,” “Military Assistance and Sales,” “Military Operations,” “Human Rights” and “External Political Relations.”

There is also discussion of corruption, terrorism finance, the environment, human rights, efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism, the administration of justice and narcotics, among many other topics.

At least one State Department cable of the 281 WikiLeaks had published by yesterday dealt with Cambodia.

In a classified cable of June 2009, the US Embassy in Singapore reported on a May 30, 2009, meeting at Singapore’s Presidential Palace between Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.

Mr Lee reportedly used Cambodia as an example of Chinese preeminence in Southeast Asia.

“Within hours, everything that is discussed in Asean meetings is known in Beijing, given China’s close ties with Laos, Cambodia, and Burma, he stated,” the cable said.

 

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