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Viewing cable 05MADRID1626, SPAIN: SCENESETTER FOR SECRETARY RUMSFELD'S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MADRID1626 2005-04-27 06:06 2010-12-08 21:09 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 03 MADRID 001626

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/WE, EUR/RPM AND WHA/AND
DEFENSE FOR OSD/ISP (P. GRAFF)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS PTER SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN: SCENESETTER FOR SECRETARY RUMSFELD'S
MEETING WITH DEFENSE MINISTER BONO

REF: MADRID 1604

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires J. Robert Manzanares,
reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) The Zapatero government believes it has taken
significant steps to put relations with the U.S. back on
track, such as agreeing to lead both a PRT and an FSB in
western Afghanistan. Military-to-military relations between
Spain and the U.S. have remained strong over the past 14
months despite the change in government, as has bilateral
cooperation against terrorism. Spain continues to provide
U.S. forces full access to its naval base at Rota and its air
base at Moron, as well as providing blanket flight clearances
for U.S. forces moving to and from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Defense Minister Bono will acknowledge that the U.S. and
Spain still have differences over issues such as Venezuela
but will ask that the U.S. focus on areas of cooperation, and
not only on areas of disagreement. Your meeting with Bono
can be an opportunity to send a clear message to the Spanish
government that while the U.S. appreciates Spain's
cooperation in Afghanistan and other areas, the U.S. remains
concerned about Spanish actions that negatively affect our
interests, such as Zapatero's Venezuela policy. End Summary.

--------------------
MILITARY COOPERATION
--------------------

2. (C) Military to military relations between Spain and the
U.S. remain very strong despite the change to a Socialist
government; the Zapatero government has continued to provide
broad access for U.S. forces at Rota Naval Base and Moron Air
Base. There are currently over 2500 active duty U.S.
military stationed at the two bases, the vast majority at
Rota. Including U.S. civilians and dependents, the American
presence at the Spanish bases tops 5,000. Zapatero has also
left untouched Spain's practice of providing blanket flight
clearances for U.S. military aircraft, including in support
of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Spanish military
is still smarting from its ignominious withdrawal from Iraq
and, largely as a result of the Iraq withdrawal, is
displeased with the Socialist government. The Spanish armed
forces strongly support close relations with the U.S. and
consider Zapatero's distancing from the U.S. a profound
error.

-----------------------------
COUNTER-TERRORISM COOPERATION
-----------------------------

3. (C) A critical element in our bilateral relationship is
our high level of cooperation on law enforcement and
counter-terrorism issues. Spain remains an active front in
the War on Terror. Investigations since the 3/11 attack have
confirmed suspicions that there is a large pool of Islamic
extremists throughout the country, including one cell that
plotted attacks against Spain's High Court and other targets
during the latter half of 2004. ETA also continues to carry
out small-scale bombings, though it has been greatly weakened
in the last year by arrests of key leaders in Spain and
France. Spanish authorities arrested 117 suspected Islamic
terrorists during 2004, routinely sharing with USG officials
information derived from those arrests. Attorney General
Gonzales and Minister of Justice Aguilar issued a joint
statement on March 11, 2005 committing the USG and GOS to
closer cooperation on counter-terrorism investigations.

-----------------------------
ISSUES BONO WILL LIKELY RAISE
-----------------------------

Venezuela
---------

4. (C) While he hopes Venezuela will not be the focus of
your meeting with him, Bono will come prepared to discuss
Spain's outreach to Venezuela, including its planned sale of
military ships and planes. Bono has told us the reason Spain
is selling the ships to Venezuela is to save ailing
state-owned shipyard Izar (reftel). This is probably partly
true -- it is also clear President Zapatero believes he can
influence Chavez and restrain his anti-democratic tendencies
by engaging him. Nonetheless, Bono will point out that the
sale amounts to USD 1.7 billion in equipment and will provide
Izar with 600 jobs over a 4-5 year period. He will also
insist that neither the ships nor the planes will have
offensive capability, and that Chavez has agreed not to use
the equipment for offensive purposes.

5. (C) Embassy and other USG officials have made clear many
times to high-level GOS officials (including to President
Zapatero himself by Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick) that
the U.S. believes the sale would bolster Chavez' military
capabilities and thus his capacity to cause instability in
the region, and would also lend him political credibility
when he is taking steps to curb democracy in his own country.
In addition, we have told Spanish officials that given that
Spain-U.S. relations were slowly improving, now was not the
time to make a major military sale to Venezuela.


S-80 Submarine Program
----------------------

6. (C) The Spanish Navy plans to procure 4 new diesel
submarines of Spanish design, called the S-80A. Izar will be
the prime contractor for the vessel's construction. Izar has
put out for competition a contract to assist in the building
of the sub's combat system. Two American companies, Raytheon
and Lockheed Martin, are competing with each other and
against a French and German company for the $115 million
deal. The Spanish government has been mulling the
competitors' submissions for nearly a year and has yet to
reach a decision. The Spanish Navy has made clear its
support for a U.S. solution for the combat system, arguing a
U.S. system will provide critical interoperability with the
U.S. Navy. The Zapatero government, however, has told us
they have received significant pressure from the French
government to award the contract to the French competitor.
Embassy has advocated tirelessly on behalf of the U.S.
companies.


Tomahawk Missile
----------------

7. (C) Bono has said that if the U.S. government releases
the Tomahawk missile to Spain, Spain will purchase the
missile. We understand the release of the missile has
cleared a number of hurdles in Washington. He may well
express the Spanish government's interest in purchasing the
Tomahawk missile to you and his hope that the release will be
approved.

-------------------------------------
BACKGROUND: SOCIALISTS REMAIN POPULAR
-------------------------------------

8. (C) One year after taking over the presidency, President
Zapatero enjoys an approval rating of over 60 percent and,
barring a major setback, is likely to remain in power for at
least one term (until 2008). The Socialist Party (PSOE) as a
whole also gets much higher marks today than the PP
opposition. Zapatero's withdrawal of Spanish troops from
Iraq was wildly popular with the Spanish public and the
social agenda he has pushed appeals to Spain's center-left
electorate (gay rights, curbing the power of the Catholic
Church, better relations with regional governments in
Catalonia and the Basque Region) further broadening the
Socialists' appeal. Aznar and the PP, meanwhile, remain
unapologetic for their handling of the 3/11 bombings and
declined to sideline leaders discredited by their actions in
the wake of the bombings, further eroding their public
support. Zapatero's main internal challenge is an effort by
the Basque Regional Government (comprised of moderate Basque
nationalists opposed to ETA violence) to increase its
autonomy from Spain's central government. This is a
potential powder keg since most other regions of Spain
strongly oppose increasing the Basque Region's already
considerable independence, unless they too are given greater
independence.

------------------------
RECENT POSITIVE GESTURES
------------------------
9. (C) Since November 2004, Spanish officials at all levels
have made clear their desire to restore strong bilateral
ties, with the Foreign Ministry's Director General for
Foreign Policy (under secretary equivalent) telling us
bluntly, "We want back in." In response, we've told our
Spanish contacts that we are prepared to move forward on
issues of bilateral importance and that unambiguous, positive
steps by Spain would be the best signal to the USG that they
too were ready to move forward. Spain subsequently agreed to
USG requests that it lead a Provincial Reconstruction Team
and a Forward Support Base in western Afghanistan as part of
NATO's mission in that country, issued positive statements
regarding the Iraq elections, and contributed $20 million to
the Iraq elections fund. Spain also continues to disburse
$300 million in assistance to Iraq pledged during the 2003
Iraq Donors Conference in Madrid, and has agreed to train
Iraqi security forces in Spain. We fully expect Minister
Bono to highlight these moves to you as evidence that Spain
has taken significant steps to demonstrate its interest in
improving relations with the U.S.

10. (C) The USG has welcomed these steps, while making clear
that we remain troubled by mixed signals from Spain, such
as that sent by Spain's policy of engagement with Hugo
Chavez. We also want Spain to lift its caveats on the
deployment of Spanish NATO officers to participate in NATO
missions, and lift the caveats on its national forces'
actions in Afghanistan.

11. (C) Some in the Spanish government, including Bono, have
expressed the belief that Spain is getting little in return
for these positive steps. Bono has said that at times it
appears the U.S. focuses only the on the problems in
U.S.-Spain relations, not the positives (reftel).

--------------------------------
COMMENT: SENDING A CLEAR MESSAGE
--------------------------------

12. (C) The USG will not re-establish with the Zapatero
government the deep and close relationship we had with the
Aznar administration. Nonetheless, the U.S. has key
interests in Spain we are working hard to promote and secure,
not the least of which are continued access to Spanish
military bases (including flight clearances) and
counterterrorism cooperation. Spanish officials -- including
Zapatero and Bono -- have expressed surprise that their
Venezuela policy could derail recent improvements in
U.S.-Spain relations. This is despite that fact that this
embassy and various U.S. officials, including Deputy
Secretary Zoellick, have told the Spanish that engaging

SIPDIS
Chavez and selling him military hardware could hurt relations
at this sensitive time. Bono and others have also said they
feel that the U.S. does not sufficiently recognize the
positive steps Spain has taken to improve relations with the
U.S. Your meeting with Bono can be an opportunity to make
clear that while the U.S. appreciates Spain's cooperation in
Afghanistan, the full access Spain has granted U.S. forces to
its military bases, its continued monetary contributions to
Iraq reconstruction and other positive steps, the U.S.
remains concerned about Spanish actions that negatively
affect our interests, such as Zapatero's Venezuela policy.

MANZANARES