Zapatero accused of ‘betrayal’ over Iraq
9 June 2004
MADRID – Spanish prime minister Jose Lluis Rodríguez Zapatero was Wednesday accused of “betraying” his people over the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
Mariano Rajoy, leader of the conservative Popular Party, also claimed that Zapatero did not assess in what position the return of Spanish troops would leave the Middle East country.
Zapatero withdrew the 1,300-strong contingent from Iraq within days of assuming power in April.
Rajoy’s comments came in the wake of the new United Nations Security Council resolution number 1.546 on Iraq.
The resolution, passed late Tuesday, sets out 30 June as the date for the end of the occupation and the dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority, run by the United States and Britain.
Democratic elections are planned for no later than 31 January 2005 and the resolution provides for what have been called a “full partnership between Iraqi forces and the multinational force”.
Iraqi security forces have also been placed under Iraqi control.
Rajoy told Spain’s Cadena Ser radio station Wednesday Zapatero had “betrayed” Spaniards.
He also attacked the “improvised” way the decision was taken to pull-out Spanish troops and he warned about the “international consequences” which it could bring.
Rajoy went on to say he believed Zapatero had lied to justify the withdrawal of Spanish troops, by claiming that the United States and British forces would not comply with an agreement to hand over control in Iraq by 30 June to the United Nations.
Zapatero said initially he would pull-out Spanish troops after 30 June if the UN did not take over the mandate by this deadline.
Rajoy said: “He said on numerous occasions that he would not pull-out the troops until 30 June except if there was no resolution from the U.N. This is what we all believed.”
But the PP leader claimed the Socialists had changed the arguments to justify the withdrawal – saying the mandate would never be transferred to the United Nations.
But Zapatero hit back saying: “The resolution does not mean that the United Nations will gain the control politically or militarily in Iraq.”
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news