Spain offered to host Africom: WikiLeaks
The Spanish government offered to host the US military command for Africa (Africom) in southern Spain, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told newly arrived US Ambassador Alan Solomont in January that "Spain was open to an expanded US Government presence" at the US Naval Base in Rota, near the southern port of Cadiz, "for Africom objectives," said one cable published the newspaper El Pais on Wednesday.
Africom was created in 2007 and headquartered temporarily in the German city of Stuttgart. A senior US official said last May that Washington was no longer considering moving Africom from Stuttgart.
El Pais commented that Zapatero's offer was an attempt to "close the period" of tense relations that Madrid experienced with the former US administration of George W. Bush and "to strengthen the relationship with his successor".
"All doors are open to you," Zapatero told Solomont, according to the cable. "I have told my team that the US ambassador to Spain and personal representative of President Obama is not just another ambassador but rather someone special.
"We want to reinforce our excellent relationship with the United States and for you to know that my government is one you can count on and trust."
Another cable, from June 2008, said the US had "raised with the government of Spain the possibility of basing at Rota an AFRICOM component (the Joint Intelligence Operations Center)."
Then foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos later told the US ambassador that both Zapatero and then-defense minister Jose Antonio Alonso had "said Spain would enthusiastically like to be considered for the project."
© 2010 AFP