The British ambassador to Iceland told an American colleague over a month ago that the British government was considering taking action to stop Iceland’s Icesave referendum.
This comes from a confidential document from the American embassy in Reykjavik which has been leaked on the Wikileaks website. The document to Washington also contains details of the Icelandic government’s request for American support on the Icesave issue.
The document also details efforts by the British ambassador to persuade Norway to take responsibility for Icesave, the details of which were discussed with the American embassy.
The confidential memo was written by Sam Watson, who is heading up the American embassy while the long wait for a new ambassador continues. The memo is marked confidential and not for public release and is dated 13th January – a week after the Icelandic president sent the Icesave Bill to a national referendum.
Sam Watson writes about meetings he had with Icelandic government representatives and with the British ambassador, Ian Whiting. Whiting is reported to have said that the British government was, even at that time, looking into courses of action which would negate the referendum, which is widely expected to result in a ‘no’ vote if allowed to go ahead.
Whiting told Watson that one option was for the Norwegians to take on Icesave, thereby pleasing everybody involved: the British and Dutch would get their money right away, Norway would be able to prove its professed willingness to lend to Iceland and Iceland could pay Norway back under terms it was happy with.
Watson also documents his meetings with Icelandic authorities who asked for American support. He responded that America is neutral on the issue and has no official position – an argument the Icelandic side saw as simply standing back and allowing the bullying to continue.