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US diplomat plays down leaked call, Merkel angry

US officials have not denied the authenticity of the recording and said Nuland apologized to EU colleagues for the comment.

Washington |
February 8, 2014 2:21:23 am

A top US diplomat tried to play down the damage to Washington’s diplomacy in Ukraine from a leaked telephone call, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel called an obscene remark about the EU “absolutely unacceptable”.

Senior State Department official Victoria Nuland is heard saying, “F*** the EU”. US officials have not denied the authenticity of the recording and said Nuland apologized to EU colleagues for the comment.Angela Merkel — already furious with Washington for several months over reports that US officials bugged her own phone — found Nuland’s remarks “totally unacceptable”, a spokeswoman for the German chancellor said.

Merkel also expressed support for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Nuland, who met President Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev Thursday before the Ukrainian leader flew off to meet President Vladimir Putin at the Olympics in Russia, described the bugging and leaks as “pretty impressive tradecraft” but said it would not hurt her ties with the Ukrainian opposition. In some of the sharpest language yet, Kremlin’s point man on Ukraine, Sergei Glazyev, urged the Ukrainian leader to stop negotiating with “putschists”.  He accused Washington of arming, funding and training the opposition to take power. Nuland called the remarks “pure fantasy”. “He could be a science fiction writer,” she said.

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