Spain and US heal rift over Iraq withdrawal

4th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 May 2005, WASHINGTON — Spain and the US appeared to be edging closer to healing their rift over Iraq after talks between defence ministers from both countries.

4 May 2005

WASHINGTON — Spain and the US appeared to be edging closer to healing their rift over Iraq after talks between defence ministers from both countries.

Spanish defence minister Jose Bono and the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld talked for 50 minutes in Washington.

Afterwards both said the talks had been "cordial" and helped to heal the row over Spain's withdrawal from Iraq last year.

Rumsefeld said he discussed a Spanish sale of military equipment to Venezuela.

He told reporters later "that there will be differences (between two countries) just as there are within countries".

Rumsfeld last month called Spain's decision to sell Venezuela military aircraft and patrol boats a "mistake".

He said he discussed the issue with Bono at their meeting but provided no details.

Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez has raised US suspicions by suddenly buying weapons and other military equipment from Russia, Spain and Brazil.

Washington is particularly concerned about a Russian sale of 100,000 AK-47 automatic rifles to Venezuela because of fears the weapons will find their way to guerrilla groups in neighbouring Colombia.

Madrid's relations with Washington soured when Spain abruptly withdrew its forces from Iraq a year ago in the wake of train bombings in Madrid blamed on Al-Qaeda.

The Spanish defence minister said the talks were "very cordial, very frank and very fruitful".

"I think that we have laid the foundation so that the defence relations between the United States and Spain are improvable," Bono said through an interpreter.

He emphasized cooperation between the United States and Spain in the war against terrorism, saying "you will always be able to count on us".

"Never will Spain's support fail in any matter regarding the fight against terrorism," he said.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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