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Those documents may prove the trickiest because even though the concerns of the Gulf Arab states are known, their leaders rarely offer such stark appraisals in public.

The Times highlighted documents that indicated the United States and South Korea were “gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea” and discussing the prospects for a unified country if the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead it to implode.

The Times also cited diplomatic messages describing unsuccessful U.S. efforts to prod Pakistani officials to remove highly enriched uranium from a reactor out of fear that the material could be used to make an illicit atomic device. And the newspaper cited exchanges showing Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, telling Gen. David H. Petraeus that his country would pretend that American missile strikes against a local al Qaeda group had come from Yemen’s forces.

The Times said another batch of documents raised questions about Mr. Berlusconi and his relationship with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. One cable said Mr. Berlusconi “appears increasingly to be the mouthpiece of Putin” in Europe, the Times reported.

Der Spiegel reported that the documents portrayed Mrs. Merkel and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in unflattering terms. It said American diplomats saw Mrs. Merkel as risk-averse and Mr. Westerwelle as largely powerless.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, meanwhile, was described as erratic and in the near constant company of a Ukrainian nurse who was described in one cable as “a voluptuous blonde,” according to the Times.

Associated Press writers Anne Gearan, Julie Pace and Pete Yost in Washington; Juergen Baetz in Berlin; Don Melvin in London; Angela Doland in Paris; Robert H. Reid in Cairo; Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Mark Lavie in Jerusalem; and Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.