Spain's Bono tries topatch up row with US

26th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

27 October 2004, MADRID - Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono said relations between his country and the United States were bound by friendship and that Washington understood comments by a senior army general calling for a rebalancing of their military relationship.

27 October 2004

MADRID - Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono said relations between his country and the United States were bound by friendship and that Washington understood comments by a senior army general calling for a rebalancing of their military relationship.

The move came in the wake of comments from Spanish Army Chief of Staff (JEMAD) General Felix Sanz Roldan who called for a more "balanced" military relationship with the United States after claiming that Spain gives more than it gets in return.

"We give a great deal but we receive little," General Sanz Roldan said after noting that during the conflict in Iraq 8,000 military movements took place inside Spanish airspace while 850 military vessels entered Spanish waters, while Spain also sent troops to Iraq to support the US-led intervention.

The Socialist government which subsequently took office promptly withdrew the troops in line with a key election pledge.

General Roldan said Spain, with its contributions to peace missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan and its humanitarian presence in Haiti, had proved its status as a reliable partner to its allies.

Bono told Spain's Onda Cero radio late Tuesday that General Sanz Roldan had first spoken to the US embassy in Madrid to inform them of his plans to speak on the issue.

The minister added that US diplomats "perfectly understood" the comments had not
been made with bad intent.

Dubbing Spain and the United States "friends and allies", Bono said Sanz Roldan's comments were thus not to be seen "as an attempt to be offensive or vindictive".

Bono's comments came ten days after the US ambassador to Spain, George Argyros, said relations would not be derailed by lingering disagreements over the conflict in Iraq.

Argyros met fierce criticism in Spain for missing the 12 October national day celebrations after going on a hunting trip.

At last year's national day parade Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, then opposition leader, also caused a storm by remaining seated when the US flag was borne past VIP visitors, to protest at the US-led intervention in Iraq.

Last year and in 2002 US Marines marched in the parade in tribute to the victims of the 11 September attacks in the United States but this year the Zapatero government invited French soldiers rather than their US counterparts.
  
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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