'US will not dictate our foreign policy': Moratinos

14th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 June 2007, MADRID- Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the government would defend Spain's interests on issues where Washington and Madrid differ, such as policy toward Cuba.

14 June 2007

MADRID- Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the government would defend Spain's interests on issues where Washington and Madrid differ, such as policy toward Cuba.

Moratinos said the recent visit to Spain by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighted the fact that the relationship between Spain and the United States was not one "of submission" but of "respect, dialogue and of working together" as allies.

The foreign minister was responding to a question in Parliament from Socialist lawmaker Meritxell Batet, who wanted to know the results of Rice's brief June 1 sojourn in Madrid.

Moratinos said the visit was positive and reflected the "constructive" relationship that existed with the administration of President George W. Bush despite Rice's criticism of Spain over its policy of dialogue with Cuba.

"We do not see it as a relationship of submission, but as a relationship of respect, dialogue and of working together. When there are differences and discrepancies, what should drive the head of Spanish diplomacy and the government is defending, above all, the interests of Spain, whether or not it pleases the United States," Moratinos said.

Before taking the question from a member of his own party, Moratinos responded to another from the foreign affairs spokesman of the main opposition conservative Popular Party, Gustavo de Aristegui.

The PP legislator said relations with the United States were not what they should be, blaming the Socialist government's "eccentric" foreign policy.

De Aristegui said Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's policy was "more characteristic of banana republics" and did not defend Spanish interests.

Moratinos said the statements made by Rice and U.S. Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre about friendship with Spain reflected the "normality" in bilateral relations.

Visibly angry, the foreign minister denied that the government failed to protect Spanish interests, citing figures showing that Spanish investment in the United States had tripled.

At the meeting with Rice, he said, there was consensus on issues such as the Middle East and Afghanistan, where Spanish troops are serving as part of a NATO-led force.

Rice's lightning visit to Madrid earlier this month was billed as part of an effort to mend bilateral ties that were left badly frayed after Zapatero pulled Spain's 1,300 troops out of Iraq in May 2004.

The premier, who campaigned on a promise to end Spanish involvement in Iraq, was swept into office when his Socialists upset the ruling conservatives in an election held just three days after 191 people were killed on Madrid commuter trains in bombings carried out by Muslim militants angry over the U.S.-led war in the Middle East.

Zapatero's predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, was Bush's staunchest supporter in continental Europe. EFE

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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