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Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal on WikiLeaks: 'People Will No Longer Speak to American Diplomats Frankly'

In an interview with SPIEGEL to be published on Monday, Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal warns that the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables have caused serious damage. "America's credibility and honesty are the victim of these leaks," he says.

Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal on WikiLeaks diplomatic cables: "a hodgepodge of selectivity, inaccuracy, agenda pursuit, and downright disinformation" Zoom

Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal on WikiLeaks diplomatic cables: "a hodgepodge of selectivity, inaccuracy, agenda pursuit, and downright disinformation"

The United States has suffered serious political damage as a result of the WikiLeaks publication of secret documents, says Prince Turki bin Faisal, 65, the former intelligence chief and ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington. "America's credibility and honesty are the victim of these leaks," Turki said in an interview with the news magazine DER SPIEGEL. "People, including officials, will no longer speak to American diplomats frankly."

In the embassy reports WikiLeaks obtained, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah is quoted by Adel al-Jubeir, his current ambassador in Washington, as saying that he had advised the US to stop the Iranian nuclear program and "cut off the head of the snake." These documents, according to Prince Turki, "are a hodgepodge of selectivity, inaccuracy, agenda pursuit, and downright disinformation." Nevertheless, he added, Riyadh's relationship with Washington will survive the affair, and noted: "We have overcome more serious issues in the past." Saudi Arabia will not forget that America came to its aid when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Prince Turki said. Besides, he added, "America is the only country with the ability to say no to the Israelis."

Turki also called upon the United States to renew the search for Osama bin Laden, which was discontinued because of the Iraq war. "Only when bin Laden is eliminated one way or another can the US and the rest of the world declare victory. Once you can declare victory, withdrawing your troops from Afghanistan becomes legitimate." Iran, according to Turki, cannot be trusted when it comes to its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia, Turki said, has "always told the Iranians to be more sensible on this matter," although he also pointed out that in the event of an attack on Iran, Saudi Arabia would "never" grant the Israelis flyover rights. Negotiating with Iran, Turki said, requires "a reward regime and a sanctions regime, including military sanctions, for the countries who join" a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. "In addition," he said, "there should be a nuclear umbrella" in the Middle East, "guaranteed by the five permanent members of the UN security council. This nuclear umbrella can provide Israel with protection."

Editor's note: Visit SPIEGEL ONLINE International on Monday to read the complete interview in English.


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Reaction from the US Government
In a statement, the White House has condemned the publication of "private diplomatic discussions" with foreign governments by SPIEGEL and four other international media on Sunday. Click on the link below to read the statement in full.
White House Statement
We anticipate the release of what are claimed to be several hundred thousand classified State Department cables on Sunday night that detail private diplomatic discussions with foreign governments.

By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions. Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world.

To be clear -- such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies. President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal.

By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.

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