Cablegate: Ambassador,S Meeting with Possible New Spanish

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 000974


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2014


Classified By: Ambassador George Argyros for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Argyros had a cordial discussion
March 22 with Miguel Angel Moratinos, reported to be the
leading candidate to serve as Foreign Minister under the
government of Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE) leader
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Moratinos stressed Zapatero,s
appreciation for the President,s phone call after the March
14 Spanish elections. Moratinos was also grateful for
Secretary Powell,s phone call to him on Friday, March 18.

Moratinos said that Zapatero had asked him to convey to the
Ambassador that his government will want to maintain the same
level of excellent bilateral relations that had been
constructed during the Popular Party (PP) government, and
would express its differences constructively, as among
friends. On Iraq, Moratinos reiterated Zapatero,s position
that absent a UN mandate for troops there, Spanish troops
would be withdrawn. However, he underscored that the U.S. and
Spain must remain focused on their shared objective in Iraq:
promoting stability and democracy. He said we should work to
find a way to meet these objectives "with or without" Spanish
troops. He also said that the PSOE government was
considering increasing Spanish presence in Afghanistan, from
where PSOE sees the most direct Al-Qaeda threat,
demonstrating that PSOE would not appease terrorists.

2. (C) Moratinos said that Zapatero was grateful for the USG
response to the terrorist attacks and the Spanish elections,
but was concerned about criticism in the U.S. press and some
other "sectors" that undermined the legitimacy of the Spanish
elections by saying that Al-Qaeda had put PSOE in power.
"This is a redline for us, which we cannot accept," Moratinos
said, and asked for USG help in dispelling this image.
Ambassador Argyros drew from talking points in reftel to
convey USG,s desire to work constructively with the new
Spanish government on counter-terrorism and a range of other

3. (C) Moratinos opened the March 22 meeting with Ambassador
Argyros by expressing his and President-elect Zapatero,s
deep appreciation for the spirit and tone of the phone calls
from President Bush to Zapatero and Secretary Powell to
Moratinos. He said Zapatero has specifically asked him to
convey to Ambassador Argyros that the Spanish relationship
with the U.S. would be his government's high priority. PSOE
wanted to build on the close ties that the Popular Party
under President Aznar had built with the U.S. It would be
"stupidity" to end these ties, and PSOE wants to build on
this strong relationship, Moratinos said. Moratinos noted
that Spain will want to strengthen its ties with Europe, "our
family," but that this does not contradict the need for close
ties with the U.S. PSOE wants rich U.S.-EU ties and strong
U.S.-Spanish bilateral relations, he added. "We intend to
work on the basis of no change" in our bilateral relations
from the PP government. He said that the difference between
the PSOE and PP approach would be that while PSOE would try
to be "constructively involved" in Iraq and the Middle East,
the new government would convey its concerns to the U.S., in
the spirit of friendship and the desire to find common

4. (C) Moratinos expressed appreciation for his phone call
with Secretary Powell, which he called "excellent."
Moratinos said that he had encountered the Secretary on
various occasions in his capacity as EU envoy, and he would
"never forget" the warmth of the Secretary's contacts with
him. In the phone call, Moratinos said he had expressed his
desire, as soon as he is formally invested as Foreign
Minister, to visit Washington as his first trip. He
reiterated this to the Ambassador. Moratinos said the
objective would be to underscore our strong ties and to have
a serious discussion about what we can and cannot do on
certain issues, and to find common ground. He thought the
government might be formally in place in the third week of
April and would like to visit right after that.

5. (C) Ambassador Argyros expressed deep condolences for
the March 11 terrorist attacks. Moratinos said that the
President and Secretary Powell had reacted sincerely to the
attacks and appropriately to the results of the Spanish
elections three days later. Moratinos said that Zapatero was
concerned by the reaction by some press and "some sectors" in
the U.S. (but not the USG itself) that Al-Qaeda handed PSOE
their electoral victory. This, Moratinos said, undermined
the legitimacy of the Spanish election results. Spain is a
serious democracy, he said, with a sense of pride and
commitment in defending and supporting what Spain has built
through the years. Moratinos said that PSOE "will not
accept" criticism that Al-Qaeda put Zapatero in power. He
said this would be an insult to Zapatero, to Spanish
democracy and the Spanish people. Moratinos asked for USG
help ) "Whatever you can do" to help dispel this image.
This is a "redline" for PSOE, he stressed. PSOE is not going
to accept the image that the Spanish Republic is a banana
republic. Ambassador Argyros noted USG statements that the
elections 3 days after the horrific terrorist attacks was a
victory for Spanish democracy.

6. (C) Moratinos and Argyros agreed on the importance of
avoiding setting US-Spanish relations through rhetoric and
the need for private dialogue and meetings. Ambassador
Argyros also suggested the importance of avoiding commentary
or speculation on the US elections by senior PSOE leadership.
Moratinos said that PSOE, including Zapatero, understood
this. He said that there would be no more commentary from
Zapatero or the PSOE on the US elections.

7. (C) On Iraq, Moratinos said that "if there is not a
change in the role of the UN" in Iraq, we will pull out our
troops. But, he asked the Ambassador to convey to the
President and the Secretary that Spanish commitment to a
stable, democratic Iraq remained unwavering, and that this
would continue "with or without Spanish troops." Moratinos
said PSOE knows the U.S. would prefer that the troops remain,
but, he added, it is important to underscore that we share
the same objective of a democratic, stable Iraq. "Let's talk
together," he said, about how we can achieve this objective.
The U.S., he said, has a great role to play in this, and
should. "We are not going to put our finger in your eye" on
Iraq, according to Moratinos. Again, he reiterated his
desire to discuss how we can achieve our objectives in Iraq
"with or without" Spanish troops.

8. (C) Ambassador Argyros underscored our commitment to
maintain strong US-Spanish ties in NATO. Moratinos said that
"nothing will change at all" on NATO issues, noting that the
USG and the previous PSOE government had had excellent
relations. Moratinos said that the new government was
thinking of increasing Spanish involvement in Afghanistan, to
help counter Al-Qaeda there. He said PSOE wanted to make
clear that it would not appease Al-Qaeda, and wanted to
respond in way that Spain could be most effective. He noted
that the new government would have a commitment to the
Spanish people to react to the March 11 attacks. He
indicated that increasing Spain's role in Afghanistan would
also show that the PSOE government was not appeasing

9. (C) On counter-terrorism, Moratinos said that Spain,
Europe and the US needed to work together to revisit their
counter-terrorism strategy (he would not call it a "war"
because that would give legitimacy to the terrorists, he
said), since the current strategy has not stemmed the tide of
terrorism. Spain might call for a dialogue between the US
and the EU on terrorism, to have a fresh discussion of
strategy, identify what has worked and what has failed.

10. (C) Ambassador Argyros also underscored areas in which
the U.S. and Spain share common interests, such as Latin
America, where both Spain and the U.S. have huge investments
and an interest in stability and democracy. Moratinos agreed.

11. (C) On the Middle East Moratinos mentioned the need to
maintain the commitment to the Roadmap. He expressed deep
concern, however, about the effect of the assassination just
minutes before this meeting, by Israeli forces of the Hamas
leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Moratinos had to break briefly
from the meeting to give a statement to the Spanish press on
the issue. He said that he considered this leader
reprehensible, but was deeply concerned about the impact in
the region of this "extra-judicial" killing (see paragraph 14
for text of Moratinos' March 22 statement on Hamas killing).

12. (C) At the close of the discussion, both the Ambassador
and Moratinos agreed on the importance of building on the
U.S.-Spanish ties relationship and our shared commitment to
the war on terrorism. Ambassador Argyros throughout the
meeting underscored the USG,s desire to work closely with
the new government on issues of common concern, noting that,
as among friends, there would be some issues on which we
would have differences. Both also stressed the need to avoid
developing our relationship through public rhetoric rather
than private dialogue.

13. (U) Moratinos' statement on Hamas killing, in interview
on Spanish national radio: "It puts the situation in the
Middle East and relations between Israel and Palestine back
into a situation of a vicious circle of violence from which
we are unable to emerge. Therefore I believe we all
understand and we all share the state of Israel's security
needs, but that cannot justify going outside the rule of law
to fight terrorism when there are commitments to respect the
rule of law, and that is what we have always said: these
kinds of extrajudicial operations must be avoided and ended,
because they only create greater cries for vengeance, greater
unease and frustration among the Palestinian population."

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