MADRID, Jan 21 (AFP) – French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy insisted that relations between his country and Spain were strong enough to recover from last year’s split over the Iraq war, in remarks published on Wednesday.
“There may have been disagreements on this or that question – I am thinking notably of Iraq – but the friendship between France and Spain is strong enough to overcome such differences, which are part of life,” Sarkozy told the El Pais newspaper.
France was one of the leading opponents of the US-led invasion of Iraq, while the Spanish government unwaveringly backed the campaign.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar is due to present Sarkozy with Spain’s highest civilian award on Wednesday in Madrid, in recognition of France’s work in combatting the Basque armed separatist movement ETA.
“France wants to be rid of terrorism. There will be no compromise with ETA, on either side of the Pyrenees,” Sarkozy told El Pais.
“I cannot say that we can definitively eliminate terrorism, which is a many-headed monster, but the exemplary collaboration between France and Spain has yielded results which may yet prove to be permanent,” he added.
ETA’s armed campaign for an independent Basque homeland comprising parts of northern Spain and southwestern France has left an estimated 800 people dead over the past three decades.
Subject: France news