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Diplomats shaken for now after Britain's US ambassador quits

Friday, July 12, 2019

Washington: The abrupt resignation of Britain's ambassador to the United States over leaked cables critical of the Trump administration may have jolted official Washington, but it's unlikely to have a lasting impact on the U.S.-British relationship or diplomatic practice.

Current and former diplomats say the leak of Ambassador Kim Darroch's sensitive reports is unfortunate and alarming, particularly given the apparent political motive behind it. Yet, they believe any complications will be temporary even as they create short-term turbulence in relations.

"It's a problem, but I don't know that it has a chilling affect over time because in the end people have jobs to do and they do their jobs," said Ronald Neumann, a retired three-time U.S. Ambassador who is the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

"It's wrong and it's too bad. Still, you move on because there's work to be done." Darroch, a well-known figure in Washington, resigned on Wednesday amid an uproar over the candid cables, saying "the current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like." The resignation followed President Donald Trump's furious caustic response to the leaked cables in which Darroch offered candid negative views of his administration.

In the cables, Darroch called the administration's policy toward Iran "incoherent," said the president might be indebted to "dodgy Russians" and raised doubts about whether the White House "will ever look competent."     

Trump's lambasting of Darroch on Twitter — he called the ambassador "a pompous fool" and "a very stupid guy" and criticized outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May — drew condemnation from both sides of the Atlantic.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is in the running to replace May, replied: "Allies need to treat each other with respect." Others suggested that Trump's reaction proved Darroch's point.

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