Viewing cable 05MADRID2653, AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT ZAPATERO
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|05MADRID2653||2005-07-14 12:12||2010-12-07 12:12||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Madrid|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. 141216Z Jul 05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 002653 SIPDIS EUR FOR A/S FRIED NSC FOR NSA HADLEY E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/13/2015 TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER SP VZ SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT ZAPATERO Classified By: Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre; reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). ¶1. (C) Summary. Ambassador Aguirre had his first meeting with President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on July 12 to introduce himself and to review the USG roadmap for improving bilateral relations. The 90-minute meeting was cordial and relaxed throughout and covered a broad range of bilateral and regional issues. The Ambassador said he would use his position to speak frequently and directly to the people of Spain regarding America's interests through extensive travel and media access. Zapatero said Spain wants a good relationship with the USG. He said he had long gotten past his opposition to the war in Iraq and was focused on supporting Iraqi reconstruction. The Ambassador said that the USG had also moved beyond the dispute over Iraq and looked forward to positive GOS actions and statements in support of Iraqi reconstruction. President Zapatero focused much of his discussion on Latin America, emphasizing the importance Spain placed on protecting its investments in this increasingly politically unsettled region. He said Spain had pressed Venezuela to improve its behavior, both domestically and at the regional level, but said regional leaders had counseled him on the need to avoid "isolating" Chavez. The Ambassador expressed appreciation for Spain's recent statement supporting Venezuelan NGO "Sumate" against GOV legal action and said the USG hoped Spain would use private and public pressure to move Venezuela in a positive direction. Zapatero defended Spanish policy towards Cuba, saying it was imperitive for the GOS to establish ties with Castro's likely successors. Zapatero noted the importance of North Africa for Spain, particularly since many of the terrorist suspects active in Spain are from Morocco. This was an excellent first encounter with President Zapatero that allowed the Ambassador to underline the USG's interest in moving forward on a positive agenda. End Summary. ¶2. (C) The Ambassador and DCM met with President Zapatero and National Security Adviser Carles Casajuana in the the Presidential Palace. The Ambassador thanked Zapatero for the warm welcome provided by Spanish officials, particularly in arranging his early accreditation and a series of meetings with key leaders and cabinet officials during his first three weeks in Spain. Zapatero welcomed the Ambassador and emphasized his desire to have good relations with the U.S. Though Zapatero sometimes has a tendency to interrupt other speakers and to dominate conversations, in this meeting he was very engaging and listened attentively to the Ambassador's points. //BILATERAL RELATIONS// ¶3. (C) Zapatero said that Iraq was clearly at the root of the bilateral disagreements that had taken place over the last year and, while he had disagreed with the U.S. intervention, he had moved past these differences and wanted to focus on the rebuilding of a stable, democratic Iraq. He said Spain would continue to cooperate financially with in this effort. Zapatero then reviewed key areas of mutual interest, saying the U.S. and Spain could disagree on certain issues, but that his government would raise any differences in a sincere, transparent, and friendly manner. On counter terrorism, an area of good U.S.-Spain cooperation, he said that jihadists were clearly active in Spain and expressed concern that Spain-based extremists may have had a role in the London subway/bus attacks. He said Spain would continue to cooperate with the USG on terrorism finance issues. Zapatero noted his government's efforts to build a strong counter-terrorism relationship with Morocco and to ease Moroccan-Algerian tensions, iniatives he saw as dovetailing with USG objectives in North Africa. He said that Spain also desired a good U.S.-EU relationship and pointed to President Bush's speech in Brussels as a clear indication of a similar desire on the part of the USG. Zapatero highlighted Spain's good investment climate and urged greater U.S. investment. He said Spain wanted to increase its engagement with the growing Hispanic community in the U.S. Zapatero said Spain's solid economic growth generated sufficient revenues for the GOS to contribute to development efforts in many regions. ¶4. (C) The Ambassador said that the USG also desired a good relationship with Spain. He said that he would act as the face and voice of President Bush in Spain and stressed the importance of building confidence and credibility between himself and GOS officials. The Ambassador said he would speak frequently and directly to the people of Spain regarding America's interests through extensive travel and broad media access. He noted his extensive experience in Latin America, as a government executive, and as a businessman. The Ambassador said the USG had gotten past the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, but it had proven more difficult to get past the negative GOS rhetoric that had followed the withdrawal. What the USG hoped for now was positive Spanish action and public statements on Iraq and on other issues important to the USG, such as the need for democratic reforms in the Broader Middle East and North Africa. The Ambassador said he also wanted to hear from GOS officials to learn more about Spanish policy in North Africa, which was important to the USG, but was obviously an even greater priority for Madrid. //LATIN AMERICA// ¶5. (C) President Zapatero discussed Spain's important and growing interests in Latin America, noting that extensive Spanish investment in the region meant that Spain would suffer economically from any downturn or instability there. He reviewed political conditions in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Central America. He made clear that Spanish business interests would generally trump political considerations on any given country or issue. Zapatero appeared particularly concerned regarding the threat to Spanish investments in Bolivia's oil and gas industry. He said Spain thought Mesa had been a good leader and worried about the surge in indigenous group unrest and populist leaders. On Brazil, he said the GOS was troubled by President Lula's recent difficulties since it undermined Lula as a symbol of a democratic alternative to the populist message driven by others in the region. Zapatero cited the lack of development in Central America as particularly disappointing for Spain. The Ambassador discussed USG efforts to win support for CAFTA as indicative of similar U.S. concerns in Central America. Zapatero said Spain was providing judicial assistance to Colombia and other countries and planned to strengthen judicial cooperation throughout the region in the course of the Ibero American Summit in Salamanca, Spain in October. ¶6. (C) On Venezuela, Zapatero said Spain's policy of engagement with the GOV was based on advice from regional leaders not to isolate Chavez. The Ambassador said USG policy was not aimed at isolating Chavez, but we had to be realistic and do everything possible to keep him from exporting his populist, anti-democratic model. In that sense, Zapatero's attentions gave Chavez a legitimacy that he might otherwise lack. The Ambassador said the USG very much appreciated the recent GOS statements critical of GOV action against Venezuelan NGO "Sumate," and expected that Spain would continue to use both public statements and private influence to move Venezuela in the right direction. Zapatero said Spain had pressed Chavez to improve relations with Colombia and urged Venezuela to institute strict controls on the AK-47 assault rifles purchased from Russia. XXXXXXXXXXXX //NORTH AFRICA// ¶8. (C) Zapatero said that increased development and integration in North Africa were important for all of Europe, but especially for Spain. He cited the lack of economic growth in the region combined with increased radicalization within disenfranchised populations as major risks to Spanish security. Zapatero said that Morocco was the point of origin for most terrorist suspects active in Spain and that this factor alone made increased cooperation with Rabat a crucial objective for the GOS. He said King Mohamed was deeply concerned about terrorism and had pressed for greater security cooperation with Spain on the part of Moroccan security agencies. Zapatero said this would also serve USG interests in the fight against terrorism. //"THE EU IS SET"// ¶9. (C) Zapatero said that the current internal EU discord would not stop forward progress; fundamentally, "the EU is set," regardless of any bumps on the road to further integration. He said this fact obviated the long-running internal debate in Spain over whether to pursue an ever-greater European identity or maintain a more independent national character. AGUIRRE