Washington and Madrid are closer, claims Moratinos

18th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

18 April 2005, MADRID - Relations between Spain and the United States have improved, Spain's foreign minister claimed after returning from a trip to Washington.

18 April 2005

MADRID - Relations between Spain and the United States have improved, Spain's foreign minister claimed after returning from a trip to Washington.

Miguel Angel Moratinos claimed his bridge-building journey to the US capital had paid dividends.

Relations between the two had cooled since the Socialist Party honoured an election promise and withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq after their election win in March 2004.

"Without contact you can't have fluid communication so that is what we are going to try and improve on," he told Spanish radio station Cadena Sur.

"Now we can say we have moved on to a new level," said Moratinos, who met his American counterpart, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on his three-day trip.

"There had been no personal misunderstanding," he said, referring to the US president, George W Bush, and Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Spain's interior minister, Jose Antonio Alonso, on Monday began an official three-day trip to the United States where he will suggest closer ties in their respective efforts to stem terrorism and organised crime.

He will meet new US homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff; Karen P Tandy, the head of the US drug enforcement administration; and the head of the CIA, Porter Gross.

Two other Spanish ministers are due to travel to the United States next month.

The Spanish prime minister said at an EU-US summit in February he had had cordial exchanges with Bush, who reportedly greeted him in Spanish.

Zapatero raised the ire of Washington with the troop withdrawal while his predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, had been one of Bush's main backers during the war in Iraq.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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