Spanish minister explains Kosovo pullout to Clinton

24th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The explanation is well-received by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who says she understands the reasons behind Spain’s withdrawal and welcomes its military commitments on the international stage.

MADRID – Spain's foreign minister said Monday he explained to US counterpart Hillary Clinton Madrid's decision to withdraw its troops from Kosovo, a move criticised by Washington.

"Mrs Clinton's response was very positive," Miguel Angel Moratinos said in an interview from Seoul with Spanish radio and television.

"She understood the reasons that I explained to her and welcomed Spain's (military) commitments on the international stage."

Washington said last week it was "deeply disappointed" and surprised by Spain's decision, announced Thursday by Defence Minister Carme Chacon, to withdraw its 632 troops from the NATO-led force in Kosovo.

The defence ministry said Sunday that the withdrawal would be carried out in a "staged" and "flexible" manner in coordination with its allies, amid Spanish news reports that Madrid had made concessions to the United States on the timing of the pullout.

Moratinos on Monday also denied reports in the Spanish press that he had not been informed in advance about the decision, which he reportedly opposed.

"It was a government decision, and we therefore (all) knew about it," he said.

Chacon also said the decision was taken by the "whole government" of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

She told a news conference that Spain decided to withdraw its troops after 10 years "to leave the way for a totally different mission: the consolidation of the new state of Kosovo that Spain does not recognise.

"The military objectives to which Spain committed itself 10 years ago in Kosovo have been achieved, which is not the case of some of our allies who are directly taking part in tasks linked to the recognition of the independence of Kosovo," she said.

Kosovo proclaimed unilateral independence from Serbia in February 2008.

But unlike a number of European Union counterparts, Spain has declined to recognise Kosovo out of concern that it might set a precedent for separatists at home.

AFP / Expatica

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