ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday kicked off a four-nation diplomatic tour dogged by the disclosures of secret U.S. diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, an act she called an assault on the international community.
On her first visit to this Central Asian nation as America’s top diplomat, Clinton was speaking with leaders of Kazakh women’s groups and holding a public "town hall" meeting with students and faculty at Eurasian University in the Kazakh capital.
On Wednesday she is scheduled to attend a summit meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the first top-level meeting of the 56-nation group in 11 years. Also expected to be attending are many heads of government and top foreign affairs officials from across Europe, including some mentioned in the leaked diplomatic documents.
Clinton’s trip was announced shortly after The New York Times and other newspapers began publishing stories Sunday based on the unauthorized release of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, the online anti-secrecy group. Her trip had been planned much earlier.
Before departing Washington on Monday for an overnight flight to Kazakhstan, Clinton told reporters at the U.S. State Department that the leaks of documents should be of concern not only to Americans but also to people across the world.
"Let’s be clear: This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests," she said. "It is an attack on the international community — the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."
Clinton also will visit the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for the first time in her nearly two years as secretary of state. She will then travel to Bahrain for a Middle East security summit.