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Viewing cable 05MADRID171, SPAIN ON RELATIONS WITH USG: "WE WANT BACK IN"

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MADRID171 2005-01-15 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.
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