Madrid stays firm on Kabul despite soldier's death
23 February 2007, MADRID - Spain's foreign minister said Madrid had no intention of changing its plans in Afghanistan in the wake of the death of a Spanish soldier in that country.
23 February 2007
MADRID - Spain's foreign minister said Madrid had no intention of changing its plans in Afghanistan in the wake of the death of a Spanish soldier in that country.
Miguel Angel Moratinos said the Spanish position "before and now" was to maintain the presence "like it is at this time".
Moratinos was responding to a question during a press conference at a Spanish-Arab meeting on Madrid's stance after a soldier was killed and two others wounded when their vehicle hit a landmine on Wednesday near the Afghan town of Shindand.
The Spanish soldiers were inside an armoured ambulance in a five-vehicle convoy on a mission to provide support for Italian teams training the Afghan army.
The dead female soldier, identified as Idoia Rodriguez Bujan, was from Lugo, in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia.
Shindand is in the western province of Herat, near the border with Iran.
Moratinos expressed support for the family of the dead soldier and for the wounded soldiers.
He said the government had committed itself to the reconstruction of Afghanistan under the mandate of the United Nations, and its position "before and now is to maintain our presence like it is at this time."
"We are going to continue maintaining the same number of troops as the government committed to at the London Conference," with the goal of increasing cooperation and improving Afghans' living conditions, the foreign minister said.
On Tuesday night, 166 troops left from Zaragoza for Afghanistan to relieve part of the Spanish contingent at the forward base in Herat and the base in Qala-e-Naw, where the Provincial Reconstruction Team has its headquarters.
The Spanish troops in Afghanistan are part of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.
Earlier this month, Alonso said Madrid would propose upgrading its contribution to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan with four unmanned spy aircraft and a plan to train the Afghan army, but it would not be sending more troops to the Central Asian nation.
Besides the 550 Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan, Madrid is currently supplying troops for missions in Kosovo, Bosnia and Lebanon.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news