New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Monday he had been briefed on the contents of some of the cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks that had been sent to Washington by the U.S. embassy in Wellington, but declined to reveal what they said.

He told a weekly news conference that he preferred to wait and see if the cables would be released in their entirety, but some were sure to cause red faces.

“We don’t know all of the details in them, but there are bound to be one or two comments in there that might lead to embarrassment at most, but nothing more serious than that,” he said.

There are reportedly 1,490 cables sent by US diplomats from Wellington over the last 40 years. The texts have not been released, but the Stuff news website said codes summarising their subject matter showed that many refer to Afghanistan and to the 2006 military coup in Fiji.

“I think it’s important to understand that every embassy and every high commission around the world plays a role in gathering information to the best that they understand it or perceive it and then reporting back to the mothership, if you like,” Mr. Key said.

“There’s always a bit of colour and artistic license about that so, certainly, I’m sure that some of those cables will cause agitation in some of the centres they’ve been sent from and a little bit of embarrassment, but take it all with a grain of salt.” Mr. Key said he was not worried about what the cables might have said about him. “I’m sure it’d be glowing,” he said, with a laugh.

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