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Zapatero thanks US for help over Iraq

Published on 25/05/2004

25 May 2004

MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero thanked the United States for its cooperation in helping Spanish troops withdraw from Iraq, it was reported Tuesday.

He also said he was convinced that no Spanish soldiers had participated in the torturing of Iraqi prisoners.

In statements to CNN, Zapatero said Spain’s friendship with the United States entailed loyalty despite occasional disagreements.

Zapatero defended his decision to recall Spanish troops from Iraq and took the opportunity to thank the United States for its assistance in making sure the pullout was carried out as quickly and as safely as possible.

He said US forces cooperated well on the ground, providing facilities required for carrying out the withdrawal.

Zapatero condemned the torture of Iraqi prisoners and stated categorically that no Spanish troops had engaged in such activities.

He again justified his pullout of troops sent by his predecessor, conservative People’s Party leader Jose Maria Aznar.

He said the decision had not been made easily when he became prime minister.

Zapatero said he had announced his decision months before during his campaign leading up to the 14 March elections, and added that keeping its promises is the duty of every democratic regime.

Zapatero said he opposed the military intervention in Iraq for the purpose of deposing Saddam Hussein, which far from improving the situation has only made it worse.

Subsequent events have shown that the invasion was a mistake, he told CNN.

Regarding the current and future status of relations between Madrid and Washington, Zapatero stressed the need for, and importance of, maintaining a dialogue based on “sincerity and candour”.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news