Viewing cable 05MADRID171, SPAIN ON RELATIONS WITH USG: "WE WANT BACK IN"
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|05MADRID171||2005-01-15 12:12||2010-12-07 12:12||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Madrid|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000171 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2015 TAGS: PREL MARR SP SUBJECT: SPAIN ON RELATIONS WITH USG: "WE WANT BACK IN" REF: A. A) 04 STATE 274965 ¶B. B) MADRID 156 Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRS BOB MANZANARES; REASON 1.4 (B) AND (D) ¶1. Summary. The Zapatero Government has undertaken a series of gestures intended to signal their desire for improved ties with the USG. Spain will contribute $20 million to the UNDP to support the Iraq elections, met a USG request to press Arab governments to encourage Sunni participation in the Iraq elections, and used a speech by King Juan Carlos to underscore the importance to Spain of good bilateral ties with the U.S. A senior MFA official told Charge Spain "wants back in" with the USG. We have acknowledged the positive gestures while urging Spain to do more, for example by leading a PRT in Afghanistan. We have also asked GOS and Socialist leaders to rein in unhelpful comments about Coalition operations in Iraq. ¶2. (C) After months of encouraging such positive steps by the GOS, we appear to be closer to a turning point with the Zapatero Government. MFA and Moncloa representatives have gone to great lengths to ensure that we are taking note of their positive actions on issues such as Iraq. While not supportive of the USG mission, GOS officials are clearly aware that it is more productive to contribute to Iraq's reconstruction than to reiterate their opposition to the war itself. They are clearly extending their hand to us and we believe it is important that we both acknowledge the positive Spanish gestures and encourage further positive measures on the part of the GOS, for example by leading a PRT in Afghanistan and/or providing training for Iraqi security personnel in Spain. At the very least, we should take advantage of their current interest in repairing ties with us to accomplish key USG objectives in Afghanistan. End Summary. //POSITIVE GESTURES ON IRAQ// ¶3. (C) Spain will provide $20 million to support the Iraq elections, according to National Security Adviser Carles Casajuana. Poloff had provided REF A points to Deputy Director General for the Near East Alberto Moreno on 1/3 and urged Spain to support the International Mission for Iraq Elections (IMIE). Moreno said he would study the paper and respond soon. We subsequently learned that at the time the REF A points were delivered, the GOS was nearing the end of a long internal debate on whether to provide assistance for the Iraq elections, though not through the IMIE. We were informed of the positive decision by MFA Deputy Director General for Foreign Policy Felix Costales, who provided poloff a 1/10 clipping from the Spanish news agency EFE describing the GOS assistance to the Iraq elections through the UNDP and said he hoped the USG would take positive note of the GOS contribution (SEE REF B). The comments were attributed to an unnamed GOS official and drew no local news coverage, a fact that did not disappoint Casajuana given the political sensitivity of any GOS involvement in Iraq. ¶4. (C) Costales noted that, at the USG's request, Spain had also engaged Arab countries to urge them to press Iraqi Sunnis to participate in the elections. Most importantly, he said, Spain had demarched Syrian authorities, requesting that they explain to Iraqi Sunni leaders the potential long term cost to them of refusing to participate in a process that most of the international community will endorse. ¶5. (C) Charge contacted Casajuana on 1/11 to congratulate the GOS on the contribution. Casajuana said the GOS supported the January 30 elections because, difficult as the process may be, the increased legitimacy of the new Iraqi authorities would likely lead to improved security conditions for the Iraqi people. The sensitivity of the matter for the GOS was underscored when the local daily "El Mundo" cited an MFA source as denying a report that the Spanish contribution had been made in order to help repair relations with the USG. ¶6. (C) According to Costales, the GOS funds came from Spain's $300 million pledge made during the Iraq Donors Conference and were provide to UNDP in support of the electoral process. In 2004-2005, Spain disbursed $160 million of these funds. Costales said the GOS had not yet determined how best to channel the remaining $140 million Spanish aid, but wanted to demonstrate its commitment to help rebuild Iraq. (NOTE: A 1/12 news report indicated the remaining Spanish aid to Iraq will primarily be in the form of soft loans. END NOTE). ¶7. (C) Poloff spoke with Deputy Director General for the Near East Alberto Moreno on 1/12 to learn more about the debate and the GOS contribution. Moreno said Spanish officials were torn between "funding an election that would take place under difficult conditions" or directing such aid where it would "do more to improve humanitarian conditions." Moreno said that he and others in the Near East Directorate believed that there was no option other than to proceed with elections as soon as possible. "The only hope is that the next Iraqi government will enjoy greater legitimacy than the current authorities and will therefore be able to improve security conditions." Asked about the GOS approach to Arab countries to encourage Sunni participation, Moreno said that Spain was happy to help when asked, but that he did not believe the GOS had managed to move those governments to action. Moreno said he hoped both gestures would help mend bilateral relations. Poloff assured him that the USG was appreciative of these steps by Spain. //THE KING LAUDS IMPORTANCE OF U.S.-SPAIN TIES// ¶8. (C) During a 1/13 Royal reception for the Madrid diplomatic corps, King Juan Carlos declared that bilateral relations with the U.S. represented a "fundamental point of reference" for Spanish foreign policy. He added that one of Spain's primary objectives was to "develop improved bilateral ties with the U.S. at every level." //MFA: "WE WANT BACK IN" WITH THE USG// ¶9. (C) MFA Director General for Foreign Policy (P equivalent) Rafael Dezcallar approached Charge following the King's speech to inform him that the MFA had drafted that portion of the King's speech. Dezcallar also pointed to Spain's $20 million contribution to the Iraq elections as another gesture of goodwill and willingness to cooperate with the USG on an issue important to us. "We wanted to send clear signals that we want back in" with the USG. (NOTE: Positive coverage of the King's remarks were tempered by coverage in the Socialist-aligned "El Pais" daily of Socialist Secretary for International Relations Trinidad Jimenez' attack on the opposition Popular Party for having drawn Spain into an "illegal war" in Iraq. END NOTE.) ¶10. (C) Charge responded that we had noticed the positive tone and actions on the part of the GOS and would report these to Washington. However, Charge noted what we were most interested in the moment was Spanish leadership of a PRT in Afghanistan. Dezcallar said Spain wanted to lead a PRT, but qualified this position when pressed, indicating Spain would lead a PRT "if it was in the right location." Dezcallar said that the GOS had sent an MOD representative to London to discuss precisely where Spain would like to deploy next. (NOTE: We confirmed through the UK Embassy that Spain had asked to take over the UK PRT in Mazar-i-Sharif. The UK Ambassador told Charge that the UK had not responded immediately to the request and was not inclined to transfer that mission to Spain. END NOTE.) //COMMENT// ¶11. (C) After months of urging the GOS to cease gratuitous criticism of the Coalition effort in Iraq, we appear to be closer to a turning point with the Zapatero Government, though evidently not with all members of the Socialist Party. MFA and Moncloa representatives have gone to great lengths to ensure that we are taking note of their positive actions on issues such as Iraq. While not supportive of the USG mission, GOS officials are clearly aware that it is more productive to contribute to Iraq's reconstruction than to reiterate their opposition to the war itself. They are clearly extending their hand to us and we believe it is important that we both acknowledge the positive Spanish gestures and encourage further positive measures on the part of the GOS, for example by leading a PRT in Afghanistan and/or providing training for Iraqi security personnel in Spain. At the very least, we should take advantage of their current interest in repairing ties with us to accomplish key USG objectives in Afghanistan. MANZANARES