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Aznar and Bush to continue fight against terror

Published on 15/01/2004

15 January 2004

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and President George W Bush both pledged to continue the fight against terrorism Thursday at a meeting at the White House.

The outgoing Spanish prime minister has proved to be one of Bush’s staunchest allies on Iraq, and the situation in that nation was the main topic of discussion.

They agreed the situation in Iraq had improved since the capture of Saddam Hussein, and they also said Nato should assume a larger share of the responsibility in the reconstruction of the country.

At the beginning of their meeting in the Oval Office, the two leaders declared before assembled journalists that they had renewed their commitment to the so-called war on terrorism and transatlantic ties.

“This is a happy moment and a sad moment. It’s happy to be with President (sic) Aznar. It is sad to realise this will be the last time he’ll come to the Oval Office as the leader of Spain,” Bush said.

Aznar, for his part, said of his US counterpart, “I consider him a very good friend. He has been my friend during my time as (head) of the government of Spain, and I will continue to consider him my friend.”

The Spanish prime minister promised to “continue to work to do everything to strengthen the relationship, the Atlantic link,” adding that he would strive to promote liberty, human rights, democracy, stability and global security.

Bush said that “our time together has been very productive for the people of America, and I believe, the people of Spain and the people of the world. We have worked together to spread freedom. And the world is more peaceful today because of the decisions we jointly made.”

The American leader also expressed his pleasure at offering Aznar and his wife an official dinner at the White House, thanking the Spanish head of government once again for his leadership, his courage, his wisdom and sage advice.

Aznar said that Bush would be able to count on him to defend his ideas, noting that the US president would have a friend ready to work for a better world.

Attending the dinner that Bush hosted for Aznar and Ana Botella, the Spanish leader’s wife, were First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft and members of Congress.

The Spanish contingent included Foreign Minister Ramon Gil Casares and Communications Minister Alfredo Timermans, among others.

Also dining with the group were one of Bush’s daughters, Aznar’s oldest son and Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

After dinner, Aznar and the Spanish delegation left for Andrews Air Force Base to begin the return trip to Madrid.

Aznar is scheduled to return to the United States on 4 February to attend a joint session of Congress.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news