Clinton on ‘reassurance tour’ in Central Asia in wake of WikiLeaks

Secretary Clinton is in Astana, Kazakhstan, today, attending the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where she has been doing a “reassurance tour” (read: awkward conversations!) after WikiLeaks’ recent disclosure of candid State Department cables. In a news conference today with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, she said that no country ...

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary Clinton is in Astana, Kazakhstan, today, attending the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where she has been doing a "reassurance tour" (read: awkward conversations!) after WikiLeaks' recent disclosure of candid State Department cables. In a news conference today with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, she said that no country has decided not to  work with the United States any longer or have discussions with it. Implying that her damage-control work is going well, Clinton said in her remarks:

I have had the opportunity to meet with many leaders here at the summit in Astana.… I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing. I have not had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both, going forward.…

And I anticipate that there will be a lot of questions that people have every right and reason to ask, and we stand ready to discuss them at any time with our counterparts around the world.

Secretary Clinton is in Astana, Kazakhstan, today, attending the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where she has been doing a “reassurance tour” (read: awkward conversations!) after WikiLeaks’ recent disclosure of candid State Department cables. In a news conference today with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, she said that no country has decided not to  work with the United States any longer or have discussions with it. Implying that her damage-control work is going well, Clinton said in her remarks:

I have had the opportunity to meet with many leaders here at the summit in Astana.… I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing. I have not had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both, going forward.…

And I anticipate that there will be a lot of questions that people have every right and reason to ask, and we stand ready to discuss them at any time with our counterparts around the world.

Of course, there’s a big difference between not continuing to work with the United States at all and simply being more restrained and less forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Saudabayev seemed cool as a cucumber in his remarks and displayed an “it’s no big deal” attitude toward the WikiLeaks revelations, even though some cables were not so flattering about Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (seen at left greeting Clinton). Saudabayev said: 

I believe that what has happened is part of a normal cost, or a normal price, that one has occasionally to pay while we lead our work. That is why we will be able to live through this incident, as we have through others. And, as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in my country, now declare that this will have no effect for our strategic partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan.

Something tells me this nonchalant tone is all a facade. Everybody now has documentation of how diplomats really speak.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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