Spain stops plane sale to Caracas under US veto

18th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 October 2006, MADRID — Spain said on Wednesday it is pulling out of a deal to sell Venezuela 12 new aircraft with military uses because overcoming U.S. restrictions was too costly.

18 October 2006

MADRID — Spain said on Wednesday it is pulling out of a deal to sell Venezuela 12 new aircraft with military uses because overcoming U.S. restrictions was too costly.

Washington, which has poor relations with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, had denied permission for inclusion of U.S. technology in the 10 C-295 transport planes and two CN-235 maritime surveillance aircraft involved in the deal.

The planes were to be made by Spain's CASA-EADS aircraft manufacturer, which after the U.S. veto was announced earlier this year indicated it would seek to replace the U.S. components with European ones.

Spain's foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said on Wednesday the company decided the expense "was not worth it".

"CASA sought alternatives to the transfer of (U.S.) technology, and arrived at the conclusion that the extra expense made the deal unprofitable, and the government of Venezuela was advised of that," said Moratinos.

He said the Bush administration's objections were "for political reasons".

Over the past year, Washington has objected to Venezuela's purchase of 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, fighter jets and military helicopters from Russia, as well as the deal with Spain for the 12 planes.

In May, the Bush administration barred the sale of U.S. arms to Venezuela, alleging Caracas's lack of cooperation in the international fight against terrorism.

Venezuela's arms purchases raise "serious questions about what their intentions are," the White House said in June, contending that the country's military build-up seemed to extend beyond its actual defence needs.

Chavez, a leftist-populist firebrand who calls George W. Bush "the devil" and "Mr. Danger," has bought 20 Russian Sukhoi S-30 fighter jets, which are to replace existing F-16s that date back to the 1980s and which the United States has refused to service.

Caracas says U.S. opposition to its arms purchases is part of its "imperialist" attempt to disarm Venezuela and eventually invade the South American country, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter and the fourth-largest supplier to the United States.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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