US ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray yesterday said his country regretted the disclosure of confidential information but quickly pointed out that diplomats’ reports did not represent his government’s official position.
Ray was reacting to the release of confidential documents downloaded from the US Defence department, which showed US diplomats assessment of policies, negotiations and leaders around the world as well as private conversations.
The confidential reports were made available by WikiLeaks, a website which specialises on leaking classified information.
Among the documents on the website is an assessment of the political situation in Zimbabwe in 2007 by former US ambassador Christopher Dell.
“I cannot vouch for the authenticity of any one of these documents. But I can say that the United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential. And we condemn it,” he said.
“Diplomats must engage in frank discussions with their colleagues, and they must be assured that these discussions will remain private. Honest dialogue — within governments and between them — is part of the basic bargain of international relations; we couldn’t maintain peace, security, and international stability without it.
“I do believe that people of good faith recognise that diplomats’ internal reports do not represent a government’s official foreign policy. In the United States, they are one element out of many that shape our policies, which are ultimately set by the President and the Secretary of State.”
Ray said the US policies were a matter of public record and were available online and elsewhere.
He said US diplomats also met human rights workers, journalists, religious leaders, and others outside the government who offered their own candid insights.
“These conversations depend on trust and confidence as well. If an anti-corruption activist shares information about official misconduct, or a social worker passes along documentation of sexual violence, revealing that person’s identity could have serious repercussions: imprisonment, torture, even death,” he said.
The US ambassador condemned the leaks and said they posed a risk to people.
Ray said the US was committed to maintaining the security of its diplomatic communications and would continue to work to strengthen its partnership with the people of Zimbabwe.