Expatica news

Aznar hands over reigns of power to Zapatero

25 March 2004
MADRID – Outgoing prime minister José María Aznar and Spain’s new premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero agreed Thursday the fight against terrorism was central to the country’s future.

In a meeting which lasted an hour-and-a-half at Madrid’s Moncloa Palace, the two leaders met to finalise the transfer of power.

They agreed the need to confront terrorism was central to the future of the next Spanish administration.

The former premier also gave Zapatero a full briefing on the state of the Spanish government.

Aznar also said the meeting would not “predetermine” the position of Spain on negotiations for the future of the European Constitution.

This will be one of the central issues at an EU summit in Brussels held Thursday and Friday.

Aznar also asked Zapatero to decide as soon as possible the future of the Spanish troops serving in Iraq.

Part of the 1,300-strong Spanish contingent stationed in Iraq are due to be relieved next month.

Zapatero has pledged to withdraw Spanish troops if power in Iraq is not handed over from the U.S. administration to the United Nations  by the 30 June deadline.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met Zapatero Wednesday for ten minutes, while attending the state funerals of the Madrid terrorist attacks.

Powell indicated that he would attempt to provide a new role for the UN in Iraq.

Zapatero said later that he would not back down on pledge over Spanish troops.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

                                 Subject: Spanish news