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Viewing cable 09MADRID113, CHARGE'S JANUARY 29, 2008, LUNCH WITH SPANISH MOD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MADRID113 2009-02-02 17:05 2010-12-27 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
VZCZCXRO1053
RR RUEHSR
DE RUEHMD #0113/01 0331722
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 021722Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0156
INFO RUEHXP/ALL NATO POST COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0190
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 3788
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/COMUSNAVEUR NAPLES IT
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000113

SIPDIS

FOR EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2019
TAGS: PREL MARR AF SP
SUBJECT: CHARGE'S JANUARY 29, 2008, LUNCH WITH SPANISH MOD
SECRETARY GENERAL FOR POLICY

REF: A. 08 MADRID 1281
B. BARCELONA 9
C. 08 MADRID 1280

MADRID 00000113 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Arnold A. Chacon, Reasons 1.4(b),(d).

1. (C) Summary: During a January 29 lunch, the CDA and
Spanish MOD Secretary General for Policy Luis Cuesta
discussed a possible MOD visit to Washington in June,
Afghanistan, the bilateral Agreement on Defense Cooperation,
an incident during a port call in Barcelona, Gaza arms
smuggling, and so-called Guantanamo flights. End summary.

MOD Visit to U.S.
-----------------

2. (C) Cuesta said MOD Carme Chacon hoped to visit Washington
at the beginning of June (preferably traveling June 1 and
meeting June 2 or 3) for a meeting with SECDEF. Cuesta noted
Spain's interest in perhaps scheduling the next bilateral
High-Level Defense Committee meeting in the U.S. in
conjunction with that visit. (Note: This annual HLDC
meeting alternates between the U.S. and Spain. It was held
in the U.S. in 2008. End note). He mentioned Chacon might
also travel to Pensacola, Florida after visiting Washington
to join celebrations of the 450th anniversary of that city's
founding by the Spanish.

Afghanistan
-----------

3. (C) On Afghanistan, Cuesta alluded to recent press
articles which suggested the U.S. was increasingly concerned
about Afghan Government corruption and ineffectiveness and
skeptical of President Karzai. Cuesta suggested this
mirrored Spanish thinking. The CDA pressed Cuesta on what
Spain might be planning to contribute in support of the
Afghan elections and an increased long-term Spanish
commitment to the larger allied effort. Cuesta made clear
that the question of additional Spanish resources was one
that would be decided personally by President Zapatero.
Cuesta said a definitive Spanish position was unlikely to be
articulated before the NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting in
February. He stressed the importance of a high-level U.S.
approach to Spain, suggesting the meeting FM Moratinos was
seeking with Secretary Clinton could be a key opportunity.
On the elections, Cuesta said Spain was looking at a
financial contribution but noted that with the elections
still months away, no decision was imminent.

Agreement on Defense Cooperation
--------------------------------

4. (C) On the issue of Chacon's suggestion that the ADC be
elevated to treaty status in the U.S. (ref a), Cuesta
suggested Chacon had been cornered on the issue by the press.
He said Spain appreciated the difficulties of presenting the
ADC to the U.S. Senate for approval, and looked forward to
receiving the definitive USG position on the matter. Without
providing a comprehensive list, Cuesta repeated what he has
told us before: Spain will be looking merely for
"improvements" to the ADC. The examples he cited seem to
concern issues arising from Spanish military presence in the
U.S. (drivers' licenses, dependents' health care, etc.).

Incident During Port Call in Barcelona
--------------------------------------

5. (C) During a January 22 port call in Barcelona, a
civilian crewmember of the USS Mount Whitney was accosted by
plain-clothes municipal police who did not adequately
identify themselves and who pointed a gun at his shipmates
(ref b). During his arrest, the crewmember was knocked to
the ground and later received several stitches to his head.
That same evening he was released without being charged.
There were suggestions the incident might have been racially
motivated (the crewmember was African-American). The CDA
underscored the seriousness of this incident and its
potential negative impact, if the GOS did not take
appropriate action. shared with Cuesta a note verbal sent to
the MFA January 28 requesting an explanation of the incident.
Cuesta expressed shock and promised to do what he could do
see that the incident was properly investigated.

MADRID 00000113 002.2 OF 002



Gaza Arms Smuggling
-------------------

6. (C) Cuesta said Spain understood the importance of
stopping arms smuggling into Gaza and appreciated why this
was part of the Israeli bottom-line, but he doubted Spain
would be in a position to contribute military forces to the
effort. Nevertheless, he said Spain did want to be involved
in discussions of the issue. (Note: the Spanish MFA
Political Director told the CDA January 23 that Spain would
attend the February 4-5 workshop in Denmark. End note.)

Guantanamo Flights
------------------

7. (C) On the long-running saga of alleged U.S. flights
passing through Spain carrying detainees to Guantanamo (ref
c), Cuesta said the judge hearing a related case in the
Spanish National Court was a "good man and serious
professional." Cuesta said the GOS regarded the issue as a
sideshow and hoped that with the news that the new U.S.
Administration planned to close the detention facility, the
story would eventually die away. In any case, the GOS would
stick to its position that the U.S. had not broken any laws
in Spain and had complied with relevant bilateral agreements.

Comment
-------

8. (C) Cuesta's assertion that any additional Spanish effort
in Afghanistan will be personally approved by Zapatero is
doubtless correct (the matter is too controversial
domestically for anyone else to take responsibility). Senior
GOS officials have repeatedly said Afghanistan requires a new
strategy. It will be important to them to be able to say to
their voters that the GOS has been consulted and its views
have been heard. Having a senior USG official reach out to
them on Afghanistan is important. In the meantime, engaging
the Spanish Ambassador in Washington would be useful. He is
well-connected here. On the ADC, this is not the first time
Cuesta has seemed to downplay the MOD's suggestion that the
U.S. should elevate the agreement to the status of a
Senate-approved treaty. Although he described her comments
as resulting from a press encounter gone wrong, in fact she
repeated her statements to congress and in private with
Ambassador Aguirre, who undertook to provide her with a
definitive USG reaction.
CHACON