Expatica news

US ‘understands Madrid stance on Cuba’: claim

25 May 2007

WASHINGTON – Spain’s top official for relations with Latin America said her visit here has allowed her to “clear up misunderstandings” with the United States about Madrid’s posture toward Cuba.

Trinidad Jimenez told Efe late Wednesday that she had given the high-level U.S. State Department officials she met with an opportunity to “better understand our position regarding Cuba.”

On the first day of her official visit to Washington, Jimenez had what she described as a “very productive and cordial” session with the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Thomas Shannon.

The Spanish diplomat also met with Sen. Mel Martinez, a Cuban-born Florida Republican who heads the U.S.-Spain Council.

Jimenez said she conducted “a review of the region,” including the situations in Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala, and “its most important problems” at the meeting with Shannon.

Cuba and the Spanish government’s position toward the island were a main theme of the talks between Shannon and Jimenez.

“We wanted to clear up a series of misunderstandings,” Jimenez told Efe.

Spain’s main opposition Popular Party criticized the visit to Cuba in early April by Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

The conservative PP criticized Moratinos’s position toward the island and said his trip reflected the Socialist government’s backing for the regime of Fidel Castro, who turned over power temporarily to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 as he tries to recover from multiple surgeries for an unspecified intestinal ailment.

The United States also reacted negatively to the Spanish foreign minister’s trip to the island, with Shannon calling on Moratinos to explain the reasons why he did not meet with opponents of the Cuban government.

Jimenez told Efe that she explained to Shannon the Spanish government’s policy of “respect” in relations with Cuba and that even though there were differences between Madrid and Havana, “permanent talks and fluid dialogue are very positive.”

Trinidad Jimenez plans to meet Thursday with the head of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, the head of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.

This is the first visit to the United States by Jimenez since being named Spain’s secretary of state for Ibero-America in September 2006, and the trip comes just days before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s June 1 visit to Madrid.

Rice’s trip will be the first to Spain by a high-level Bush administration official since the electoral victory in April 2004 of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who, acting on a campaign promise, ordered the withdrawl of the 1,300 troops Madrid sent to Iraq under the preceding conservative government.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news