US State Department Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has been tapped to lead the diplomatic response to the leak of highly classified Pentagon documents, according to a US official familiar with the matter.
US government officials “are engaging with allies and partners at high levels over this including to reassure them of our commitment to safeguarding intelligence and the fidelity of securing our partnerships” following the mass leak of highly classified documents, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Monday.
Patel would not go into details about which countries they had engaged, saying “that work is ongoing.”
Asked by CNN if the State Department is taking the lead on those conversation, Patel said that “as the main diplomatic branch and agency of this administration, of course the Department of State would have a role in communicating with our allies and partners, but these conversations are happening across the administration.”
“US officials are engaging with allies and partners at the highest level over this,” he said.
Patel would not say if any steps had been taken to restrict access to classified information at the State Department as a result of the leak, saying he did not want to discuss policy decisions.
CNN has reported that some of the leaked documents included intelligence related to the war in Ukraine.
International response: Patel would not speak on specific comments from South Korean and Israeli officials reacting to leaked documents. South Korea’s presidential office said it will hold “necessary discussions with the US” regarding the document leak, which comes as the relationship between Seoul and Washington is already strained due to South Korean anger over the Inflation Reduction Act harming South Korea’s electronic vehicle industry and concerns related to the US CHIPS Act.
“There is a lot of frustration towards the Yoon administration for being too committed to the US alliance so every aspect of the US-South Korea relationship is under the microscope,” said a former US Ambassador to South Korea.
The South Korean president is scheduled to visit the White House later this month, making the timing around this incident particularly unfortunate the former diplomat said.
“Does Yoon have to raise this during the State Visit? We don’t know yet,” the diplomat said
More broadly, one diplomat from a NATO country told CNN that they do not believe Moscow was overly surprised by the most of the intel that was revealed in the leaked documents, noting Russia has robust intelligence gathering operations.
They also said that they were not frustrated that there was US intelligence that was not widely shared with allies. This diplomat said most nations do not share everything with their allies nor is there an expectation that they do so.
“That’s not the way it works,” the diplomat said.