Cablegate: Ambassador Solomont's January 12, 2010, Meeting

DE RUEHMD #0025/01 0131429
R 131429Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000025



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2020


Classified By: Ambassador Alan D. Solomont, Reasons 1.4(b),(d).

1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador met with Spanish SYG of the
Presidency (NSA-equivalent) Bernardino Leon January 12. He
wanted to meet with Leon as soon as possible to begin to
establish a good working relationship and to share his
observations regarding the U.S.-Spain bilateral relationship.
He emphasized his primary goal as Ambassador is to
strengthen the partnership between the GOS and USG. The USG
wants and expects Spain to be the most reliable partner on
issues of mutual interest, and the Ambassador noted its
uneven behavior on critical issues such as the Balkans, its
promise to take five Guantanamo detainees, and on promoting
human rights in Cuba. Spain,s support and leadership in the
EU on Iran and Afghanistan are opportunities for Madrid to
reaffirm Spain,s commitment to the strategic partnership.
The Ambassador pledged to work closely with GOS officials on
obtaining Spanish public support for our mutual national
security interests and counter-terrorism priorities. Leon
welcomed the Ambassador's candor and commitment to forging a
close working relationship, acknowledging that Spain,s
credibility was at stake and it needed to follow through on
its commitments. He underscored Spain,s continued
aspirations to join the G-20 and welcomed the USG,s openness
to this possibility. End Summary.

2. (C) The meeting followed a January 7 meeting in Washington
between NSA Jones, Leon, and Solomont. The Ambassador
delivered a message of tough love. He underscored that NSA
Jones and many others in the USG thought very highly of Leon,
and said his Embassy and he personally were committed to a
close working relationship with Leon.

3. (C) Leon briefed on plans for President Zapatero,s
upcoming visit to Washington in early February for the
National Prayer Breakfast. While Zapatero hopes to have a
brief encounter with the President on the margins of the
breakfast, he appreciates the President,s time constraints
and acknowledges the recent summit meeting. Zapatero,s
developing agenda in Washington includes a program at the
Atlantic Council, a possible address to the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, and other meetings in which he wants to send an
important message about Spain,s EU Presidency priorities and
its commitment to the Transatlantic partnership. Leon said
the Royal Palace accepts with pleasure the White House,s
proposed February 17 date for a "substantive" visit by the
King, who looks forward to establishing a close relationship
with President Obama.

4. (C) The Ambassador emphasized that his primary goal is to
strengthen the partnership between Spain and the USG.
President Obama needs the GOS to be a reliable partner on the
key issues of mutual interest, he said. The USG appreciates
that Spain wants to help President Obama, but the USG expects
the GOS will see that cooperation with the U.S. is in Spain's
interest and the interest of its NATO allies. Speaking
frankly, the Ambassador indicated that Spain is viewed
unevenly in the USG. While many, including NSA Jones,
appreciate Spain,s contributions and support over the last
year, there is concern in some quarters about Spain,s
reliability, particularly on Kosovo, Cuba and elsewhere.
Spain would do well to make clear commitments and then follow

5. (C) The Ambassador emphasized that the USG welcomes Leon,
FM Moratinos, and other Spanish officials, reassurances to
work in tandem on key issues, and we too want to work closely
with Spain to avoid misunderstandings. There are several
principal opportunities for close coordination and
cooperation -- on Guantanamo detainees, Afghanistan and Iran
-- where Spain,s leadership, especially in the EU
Presidency, is particularly welcome. He noted the importance
of U/S Burns' visit to Spain January 14-15 for consultations
with the Spanish and EU political directors on Iran. On
Guantanamo, the Ambassador asked Leon for clarification of FM
Moratinos, recent public statements suggesting Spain could
not resettle detainees from Yemen, although it had committed
to taking one. Leon was not aware of any GOS change of heart
in this regard and undertook to clarify. He said that
Spanish law enforcement is carefully vetting proposed
detainees for resettlement, noting however that Spain,s very
independent judiciary, and in particular its crusading
investigative judges, are always poised to create problems
for the government, especially on detainees. The GOS is
working to get the Spanish Congress on board, and President
Zapatero will appear before Congress in February to make the
government's case.

MADRID 00000025 002 OF 002

6. (C) Leon welcomed the Ambassador's invitation to
coordinate closely our messages on Afghanistan, agreeing that
the public needed to understand the direct link between the
March 11, 2004, Atocha train bombings in Spain and
Afghanistan. On Iran, Leon said Spain stands ready to
support the USG and added that UNSC support will be
instrumental to achieving our objectives. Leon said he had
long been concerned about the proliferation effects from an
unchecked Iran, noting that Iran,s actions threaten not only
the Middle East but also the Maghreb on Spain,s border. On
the Middle East, Leon underscored Spain,s continued interest
in helping promote peace, suggesting that a meeting of the
Quartet on the margins of the prospective US-EU Summit in
Spain could give some impetus to the peace process. The
Ambassador said Spain can help now by encouraging the
Palestinians to return to the bargaining table, noting that
Special Envoy Mitchell is likely to ask FM Moratinos to
encourage the Palestinians in this regard during their
January 12 meeting in Brussels. On Kosovo, Leon said Spain
understands USG concerns and pledged to work in harmony.

7. (C) Leon reported that at NSA Jones, request the GOS is
outlining objectives and deliverables for a possible US-EU
Summit. In closing, he mentioned that he was departing later
that evening for a G-20 sherpas meeting in Mexico,
reiterating Spain,s overriding national priority for G-20
membership. He said he was encouraged by Deputy National
Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Froman,s
openness in their recent meeting in Washington to a formula
that could include Spain along with the UK, Germany, France,
Italy, and the EU. Leon said he is optimistic and described
Spain,s ongoing efforts to line up international support for
its candidacy. While publicly none of the Europeans would
pick between the Netherlands and Spain, he said that
privately they agree that the Netherlands did not have a
shot. While Leon did not think a definitive decision on G-20
membership would be taken in Mexico, he is traveling there to
make Spain,s strong case. He asked the Ambassador to call
Froman to reiterate Spain,s desire for USG support.


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