American secretary of state Hillary Clinton embarked on a four-day visit to Asia on Tuesday amid publication of classified US State Department cables by WikiLeaks that continued to make headlines around the world, CNN reported.
Her trip to Asia includes stops in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Bahrain with a regional security summit being a part of the visit. She will deliver a speech on the role of the US in regional security at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain.
Clinton will lead a US delegation at the summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an organization which includes 56 countries from Europe, Central Asia and North America.
Hillary Clinton told reporters that she would be making efforts to connect with foreign officials on the trip as the leaked observations from US diplomats had created ripples around the world.
We will be seeing dozens of my counterparts... I will continue the conversations that I have started with some in person and over the phone over the last days, and I will seek out others, because I want personally to impress upon them the importance that I place on the kind of open, productive discussions that we have had to date, and my intention to continue working closely with them, she said.
Clinton is scheduled to meet with Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev and foreign minister Kanat Saudabayev, both of whom have found mention in a cable written by US embassy staff and published by WikiLeaks about the “recreational habits of Kazakhstan’s leaders”.
Kazakhstan's political elites appear to enjoy typical hobbies -- such as travel, horseback riding, and skiing. Not surprisingly, however, they are able to indulge in their hobbies on a grand scale, whether flying Elton John to Kazakhstan for a concert or trading domestic property for a palace in the United Arab Emirates, the cable says.
The report goes on to describe John performing at a birthday party for Nazarbayev's son-in-law and says that singer Nelly Furtado reportedly performed at a birthday bash for his daughter. It also mentions Saudabayev's skiing vacation in Europe with a Kazakhstani billionaire.
Whistleblower website WikiLeaks’s latest release is expected to reach 250,000 pages containing mostly state department cables sent by US diplomats between the end of 1996 and February 2010, prompting condemnation from US officials and governments worldwide.
Clinton expressed confidence that U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world will survive the leak of the documents. I can tell you, in my conversations, at least one of my counterparts said to me, 'Don't worry about it; you should see what we say about you,' she was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Clinton said the stories coming in the media, based on leaked cables, show that America’s concern about Iran is well-founded.
“I think that it should not be a surprise to anyone that Iran is a source of great concern, not only in the United States; that what comes through in every meeting that I have anywhere in the world is a concern about Iranian actions and intentions. So if anything, any of the comments that are being reported on allegedly from the cables confirm the fact that Iran poses a very serious threat in the eyes of many of her neighbours and a serious concern far beyond her region,” she was quoted as saying in response to a question.
“That is why the international community came together to pass the strongest possible sanctions against Iran,” she said.
“It did not happen because the United States went out and said, please do this for us; it happened because countries, once they evaluated the evidence concerning Iran’s actions and intentions, reached the same conclusion that the United States reached, that we must do whatever we can to muster the international community to take action to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state,” Clinton said.
“So if anyone reading the stories about these alleged cables thinks carefully, what they will conclude is that the concern about Iran is well-founded, widely shared, and will continue to be at the source of the policy that we pursue with like-minded nations to try to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” she said.
‘Iran is a threat to global security’
Meanwhile, White House said Iran is a threat not only to the security of the U.S. but also to the Middle East and other parts of the world.
“They (Iran) are a threat to our security; they’re a threat to Middle East stability; they’re a threat to countries throughout the world not because our diplomat told some other country’s diplomat, hey, Iran is a threat,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
“Iran is a threat because of their pursuit of not a peaceful nuclear power programme but an elicit nuclear weapons programme. Those are common interests that we share in ensuring that a country like that doesn’t have the ability to make progress on that programme,” he told reporters.
It is obvious that countries throughout the world, including in North America, Europe and the Middle East “understand the threat that a nuclear Iran poses, again, not because we said it was a threat but because they recognize, either for regional stability or overall global stability, that dealing with their pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme is a grave concern not just to us but also to them,” he said.
Separately, State Department spokesman P J Crowley said: “We all see a danger with the direction that Iran is on. We want to see Iran change direction and play a more constructive role in the region and around the world and live up to its international obligations.”
“We are fully engaged with Saudi Arabia and many other countries. We all see the danger posed by Iran in a similar way,” he said.