Madrid tries to thaw US relations over Iraq

2nd February 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 February 2005, MADRID - Spain's Socialist government, which right after taking office last April pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq, said it is studying the possibility of training Iraqi police officers in Spain.

2 February 2005

MADRID - Spain's Socialist government, which right after taking office last April pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq, said it is studying the possibility of training Iraqi police officers in Spain.

It will be seen as a move by Madrid to try to thaw relations with the US, which have not recovered since Spain's withdrawal of troops shortly after the Socialists' shock election victory last year.

Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, appearing before the higher house of the Spanish parliament, told legislators the objective was to help Iraq "consolidate the rule of law."

He said that in addition to police officers, "agents and functionaries" might also receive training in Spain.

Spain's withdrawal of troops last year did not mean Madrid "was forgetting about" the strategic situation in the Middle East, Moratinos said.

He noted that Spain provided extensive technical assistance for Sunday's elections in Iraq.

"The high and heroic participation of Iraqis in the elections should make for a rapid transfer of sovereignty to a new Iraqi government, which should be responsible for security in the country," the minister said.

"We will help however we can," he added.

He defended the pullout of the 1,300 soldiers that the previous conservative administration - a staunch supporter of the US-led Iraq enterprise - had sent to Iraq following the defeat of Saddam Hussein's forces in 2003.

Spain's participation "meant supporting with our armed forces an intervention that did not respect international legality," he said.

He also noted that Madrid's erstwhile backing for the occupation enjoyed the support of only a small minority of Spanish citizens.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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