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India kept out of key meet on Afghan 'to appease Pakistan', exposes WikiLeaks

Monday November 29, 2010 05:41:52 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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Washington: A cache of a quarter-million US cables released by WikiLeaks has exposed secret back-room manoeuvring by the US 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 US embassy in India. Other cables pertain to communications from US missions in Islamabad, Colombo and Kathmandu.

India was one of the countries reached out by top US 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 US 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 US 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 Feb 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 Jan 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 US 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.

A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel and a global computer hacking effort by China are among the revelations laid bare by WikiLeaks.

The cables show that nearly a decade after the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, terrorism still dominates the US' relations with the world, said the Times.

"They depict the Obama administration struggling to sort out which Pakistanis are trustworthy partners against Al Qaeda, adding Australians who have disappeared in the Middle East to terrorist watch lists, and assessing whether a lurking rickshaw driver in Lahore, Pakistan, was awaiting fares or conducting surveillance of the road to the American Consulate.

"They show American officials managing relations with a China on the rise and a Russia retreating from democracy. They document years of painstaking effort to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon - and of worry about a possible Israeli strike on Iran with the same goal," the Times said.

Detailing "a dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel" revealed by WikiLeaks, the Times said: "Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.

In May 2009, (US) Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, "if the local media got word of the fuel removal, 'they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons,' he argued."

Another cable said a Chinese contact told the American embassy in Beijing in January that China's Politburo directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems in that country.

The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government, it said.

They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at




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