Madrid and Washington launch charm offensive

1st April 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 April 2005, MADRID-The US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will meet Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in Madrid on Saturday for a mutual charm offensive.

1 April 2005

MADRID-The US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will meet Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in Madrid on Saturday for a mutual charm offensive.

In order to repair relations soured by disagreement over Iraq, diplomatic sources said  the two politicians will hold a meeting in the Spanish capital.

Zoellick is currently on a tour of European capitals and will arrive in Spain from Lisbon for a whistle-stop visit to Madrid ending Sunday.

Moratinos is to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 15 April for what will be their first formal talks.

The two met only fleetingly in Brussels in February in advance of US President George W Bush's European tour that month.

The Socialist administration of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has endured frosty ties with US leaders since he took office a year ago and immediately infuriated Washington by withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq.

The Bush administration was aghast once again this week when Zapatero confirmed during a visit to Venezuela that it would sell military hardware to the regime of President Hugo Chavez, a leftist leader of whom Washington is not a fan.

International Monetary Fund head and former Spanish finance minister Rodrigo Rato is meanwhile working behind the scenes to improve relations between Madrid and Washington, Spanish media reports said Thursday.

Rato is due to meet Zapatero on Friday at an Institute of International Finance meeting in Madrid and a government spokesman said that meeting would go ahead as planned.

The Spanish daily El Pais said that Rato, who served as finance minister under former conservative leader Jose Maria Aznar but had reservations on the Iraq expedition, "is ready to collaborate in different forums to improve ties."

The daily added that Rato was firmly behind the choice of US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz, US President George W Bush's controversial candidate to head the World Bank, despite reservations in some quarters, particularly some EU states over his leading role in the Iraq conflict.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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