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Karzai, Gilani attack leaks

Kabul, Dec. 4: The Afghan President and the Pakistani Prime Minister dismissed the WikiLeaks revelations about their respective countries as alternately false, unreliable and the work of “junior officers” in a joint news conference here today.

However, a senior Afghan minister later took a more aggrieved tone, suggesting that the leaked cables had irreparably damaged relations between the American ambassador, Karl W. Eikenberry, and members of the Afghan government. The minister, Omar Zakhilwal, also said that remarks attributed to him by Eikenberry in one of the cables, disparaging President Hamid Karzai, were false.

Until today, the Afghan government had said little about the contents of the cables, thousands of confidential state department memos that were made public in the past week by WikiLeaks and a number of newspapers.

Answering questions from the Afghan, Pakistani and international media at the news conference today, Karzai and the Pakistani Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, appeared to be at once trying to diminish the significance of the cables by throwing doubt on their authenticity while at the same time taking them seriously enough to deny some of their contents.

When Gilani was asked about a cable that said his government lacked the ability to control its own military and intelligence services, he said: “I would request you not to trust WikiLeaks.”

“These are just the views of junior officers,” he said. “They are not authentic. We should not even take them seriously.” Karzai seemed at times statesmanlike and above the fray.

In response to questions, Karzai said that he understood that of course his ministers spoke about him, but that he was sure the way the cables characterised their remarks was not correct. “Take the example of Zakhilwal,” he said. “I am sure they are not true.”

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