Zapatero tells Blair there is no going back to Iraq
4 June 2004
LONDON – Spanish Socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero vowed after a meeting with British premier Tony Blair that there was no chance of troops returning to Iraq, it was reported Friday.
“There is no possibility, we are not considering it,” said Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero after a meeting at 10 Downing Street in London.
However, Blair expressed optimism for a swift handover of sovereignty in Iraq.
He told a joint news conference he was sure a UN Security Council resolution on the handover of power to an Iraqi government could be passed soon.
There are concerns over the transfer of power to a sovereign Iraq in France and in other countries.
“There are details and drafting to be done,” Blair said, speaking at Downing Street.
“That will be done. I am reasonably optimistic that it will be done in a pretty short space of time,” he added.
Blair added that security council members – of which Spain is one – had agreed on the “single principle that sovereignty should be transferred in a full and indivisible way.”
Zapatero pulled Spain’s 1,300 troops out of Iraq – sent there under the previous Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar – last month.
Zapatero told Thursday’s news conference the multinational force remaining in Iraq after the 30 June handover of sovereignty should “remain for the shortest possible time.”
He added Spain would not consider sending troops to Iraq, even as part of a United Nations taskforce.
Spain’s heaviest loss in Iraq was the death of seven of its intelligence officers in a mortar and grenade attack on their convoy in Latifiya in December.
Despite major disagreements between Madrid and London on Iraq, the British prime minister insisted relations between the two countries were “just fine”.
The decision of Zapatero to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq caused a split between Spain and Britain.
Both Blair and Zapatero refused to comment on speculation that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is emerging as a possible new president of the European Commission.
Britain’s Financial Times newspaper, in a front-page story, reported that Blair
supported Solana, a former NATO secretary general, as an alternative
candidate to Belgium’s Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
Leaders of the 25 EU member states are to decide who they will appoint to succeed Romano Prodi at the head of an all-new European Commission when they convene for a two-day summit in Brussels later this month.
The London summit with Blair was the latest in a series of meetings Zapatero is conducting with European leaders.
He has also travelled to Italy, Germany, France and Portugal.
But he has no plans to meet with President George W Bush who arrived in Italy Thursday for a whistle-stop tour of Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day on 6 June.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news