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|Tags:||PREL CO SP EUN NATO VZ|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 MADRID 001317 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2015 TAGS: PREL, CO, SP, EUN, NATO, VZ SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT ZAPATERO Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Bob Manzanares; reasons 1.4 (b) and (d ) 1. (U) April 2, 2005 2. (U) Participants: U.S.: The Deputy Secretary Charge Bob Manzanares EUR Acting A/S Robert Bradtke D Executive Assistant Ross Wilson Spain: President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos Foreign Minister's Chief of Staff Javier Sancho National Security Adviser Carles Casajuana 3. (C) Summary. The Deputy Secretary met with President Zapatero and FM Moratinos on April 2 for nearly two hours. Zapatero was focused on the issue of Iraq but also emphasized his desire for good relations with the U.S. He hoped his actions would make clear that Spain is a good ally, for example through its commitment to NATO operations in Afghanistan. He agreed on the need for the international community to demonstrate support for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, since both parties had taken great risks to move the process forward. Zapatero discussed Spain's efforts to combat Islamic extremists active in Spain, especially from North Africa, and the judicial investigation into the March 11, 2004 attacks, which he said pointed to links between the March 11 and September 11 attacks. He praised the high level of USG-Spanish counterterrorism cooperation. On Venezuela, Zapatero said his trip had given Spain increased influence with Chavez, which the GOS would use to steer him towards a more moderate course. He defended Spanish arms sales to Venezuela. Zapatero supported a global increase in development assistance to help less developed countries, especially in ways that will help address the root causes of terrorism 4. (C) The Deputy Secretary reviewed U.S. thinking in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Broader Middle East, highlighting the changes that are sweeping through the region as reflected in successful democratic elections and steps toward economic reform. He questioned the Venezuela arms sales and said it would be seen as legitimizing Chavez, whose actions worry governments throughout the region. On foreign aid, he stressed the importance of good governance, effective reform strategies, and anti-corruption efforts to ensure resources are well used, and he noted that U.S. aid had doubled during President Bush's first term. Zapatero clearly appreciated the opportunity to initiate a dialogue with the United States, as demonstrated by his willingness to make two hours available on a Saturday night. End Summary. 5. (C) The Deputy Secretary, accompanied by Charge, Acting EUR Assistant Secretary Robert Bradtke, and D Executive Assistant Ross Wilson met with President Zapatero and Foreign Minister Moratinos, and National Security Adviser Casajuana at Moncloa,the Presidential compound. This followed an earlier meeting with FM Moratinos (reported septel). Zapatero lauded President Bush's recent visit to Europe, which he said conveyed the USG's interest in strengthening the transatlantic relationship. He was relaxed, but clearly wanted to use his meeting with the Deputy Secretary to address U.S.-Spain bilateral tensions and to explain Spain's views on the events of the last year. As he has done throughout his visits to European capitals, the Deputy Secretary said he had come to listen and invited Zapatero to SIPDIS outline Spain's views and priorities for the months and years ahead. Zapatero took this invitation and spoke for over an hour reviewing key issues, after which there was a give and take. The following are highlights of that discussion. ======================= MIDDLE EAST ISSUES ======================= 6. (C) President Zapatero expressed modest optimism regarding the current situation in the Middle East, including regarding the new Palestinian Authority leadership. He called the Middle East conflict a "cancer" that is among the most important causes of Islamic radicalism. Zapatero discussed Spain's close historical and cultural ties to the Islamic world, especially its neighbors Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. He said Spain enjoys the respect of the Arab world, even from countries such as Syria, which he said Spain has consistently pressed to withdraw its forces from Lebanon. 7. (C) The Deputy Secretary underlined the USG's commitment to move the process forward and said the international community must strengthen both the Israelis and the Palestinians since both were taking on major risks. President Abbas won legitimacy through his election, but still needs to develop his authority by creating jobs, addressing corruption, and consolidating his control over the security services. Sharon, too, will need help as he takes on Gaza disengagement and the steps that follow. The Deputy Secretary said that he had never seen a greater time of SIPDIS opportunity to secure a lasting peace. 8. (C) More broadly, the Deputy Secretary lauded the sometimes halting steps people are taking throughout the region toward democracy. This creates a measure of instability, but we have come to appreciate that the "stability" of traditional regimes had been misleading. Maintaining the status quo fed frustrations that contributed to the growth of terrorism. Successful elections in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian territories, and recent events in Lebanon are examples of positive trends; these countries need our help. The Deputy Secretary noted that as U.S. Trade Representative he had seen how economic reformers also tended to seek political openness and how interest in economic reforms had spread from country to country. =================== TERRORISM =================== 9. (C) Zapatero said that European countries, and Spain in particular, were engaged in a struggle against international terrorism. Spain is among the most affected countries in Europe, and most terrorist suspects found to be operating in Spain come from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Many of these extremists had received training from both Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and al-Qaida. Zapatero said that as a result of the investigation into the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings, Spanish security forces had gathered significant new intelligence regarding both the March 11 attacks and the September 11 attacks. The results of the investigation should become final in a couple of months and will show that the two sets of attacks were connected, and will be shared with the United States. Spanish security agencies now devote three times as many people to combatting Islamic extremists as before the March 11 attacks. At the international level, Zapatero said Spain enjoyed good counterterrorism cooperation with Morocco, Algeria, and especially Jordan. He was strongly supportive of U.S.-Spanish information sharing and cooperation, which he said had led to the deactivation of several terrorist cells operating in Spain. 10. (C) Regarding the March 11 investigation, Zapatero said a total of 78 individuals had been charged in connection with the case and that 40 were in jail, accounting for about 90 percent of those thought to have had a role in the bombings. (NOTE: On April 1, Spanish police arrested 13 men suspected of connections to the March 11 bombings, in part to disrupt possible plans for new attacks to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the April 3, 2004 suicide bombing in Madrid's suburb of Leganes by the core group of March 11 terrorists. END NOTE.) On ETA, Zapatero expressed his conviction that ETA would be defeated and disappear within a "reasonable" period of time. He lauded the high level of cooperation against terrorism by U.S. and Spanish security services. 11. (C) Zapatero said Spain is also working to reach out to moderate Muslim countries. Spain was trying to push these governments towards modernization and reform, especially regarding the treatment of women. He pointed to his recent speech before the Arab League in Algiers, where some of his comments on democracy, modernizations, and womens' rights drew no applause from Arab leaders in the front rows but obviously had support of many in the audience. Zapatero said Spain's encouragement of reforms fell within the rubric of its "Alliance of Civilizations" proposal and expressed the view that extremism would remain a danger if the West dealt with the Muslim world in a confrontational manner. Turning again to the threat from Maghrebi terrorists, Zapatero said Spain wanted young Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian people to see a future for themselves in a more prosperous and interconnected world, rather than turning to radical Islam as a form of salvation. 12. (C) The Deputy Secretary said the USG was pleased with Spain's high level of cooperation on counterterrorism, citing the recent visit of Attorney General Gonzales to Madrid and the upcoming visits to Washington by the Spanish Interior and Justice ministers as important to further our counterterrorism cooperation. The Deputy Secretary pointed to the bilateral exchange of information on the protection of sensitive documents and cooperation in tracking terrorism financing as particularly important areas of collaboration. ========================== VENEZUELA/LATIN AMERICA ========================== 13. (C) Zapatero described the U.S. as the key actor in Latin America. Spain also has a growing political and economic role in the region. Besides commercial interests, nearly one million Spanish citizens reside throughout South and Central America and much of the region has an Hispanic heritage. He said the overall situation in Latin America was "difficult and complicated," with few countries other than Mexico and Chile having developed strong national identities. Zapatero said this was a "decisive moment" in Latin America, with some signs of economic progress but improvements in the lives of people were slower in coming. In his view, the election of new leaders, including Presidents Lula, Kirchner, and Tabare Vazquez, provided reason for hope and said it was especially important for Vazquez' experiment in Uruguay to succeed. 14. (C) Venezuela, said Zapatero, is an example of a disaster of a country, with ample natural resources squandered by decades of poor leadership. He noted that Venezuela's per capita income had exceeded Spain's in 1972, but was now only one-sixth that of his country. He said it was impossible to explain the Hugo Chavez phenomenon without pointing to the social and economic "debacle" that took place in earlier years. Zapatero said that after taking office he had consulted regional leaders regarding Venezuela and had been advised not to isolate Chavez. He accepted this advice and said he believed his recent visit to Caracas had garnered some influence for Spain, citing a Venezuelan-Colombian pledge to work together on security, defense, and justice issues as one positive result of his visit. 15. (C) Zapatero said he had followed up on the USG's request that he raise the issue of problems related to the Venezuelan referendum signatures and met with Venezuelan NGOs recommended by the USG. He expressed his commitment to maintain pressure on Venezuela regarding the electoral census office, justice issues, and the NGO 'Sumate.' Zapatero emphasized that Spain would continue to work on these issues in a positive manner and would encourage reconciliation. He believed Chavez and his supporters could win three rounds of elections since sending doctors into Caracas slums and other social spending funded by high oil revenues guaranteed him a certain level of support. A fall in oil prices would damage Chavez' prospects. Zapatero faulted the opposition for having made mistakes in its approach to Chavez. It had taken confrontation too far and would pay for that at the polls for a long time to come. 16. (C) Looking at the region, Zapatero said Spain's primary objective is to strengthen democratic institutions by supporting judicial reforms and strengthening social democratic parties similar to those that exist in Europe. He said Spain is providing EUROS 120 million in assistance and is pressing for open markets, improved tax systems, and good governance reforms. Zapatero encouraged the USG to increase its official assistance and engagement generally throughout Latin America. He expressed disdain for Castro and the Cuba he rules. Despite many entreaties from Castro, Zapatero had not responded and did not want any relationship with him. Zapatero had received former political prisoner Raul Rivero that morning, just a day after Rivero's arrival to take up residence in Spain, as a mark of his support for the democratic opposition. 17. (C) The Deputy Secretary said the USG shared the view that Spain has great influence in Latin America in the political, economic, and cultural realms. While the USG and Spain have differences in Latin America, the USG also has great respect for Spain's role in the region. Zoellick reflected on the weakness of civil society in most of Latin America and the need to support it as part of strengthening democracy. Part of the tragedy of Venezuela was that the political elites were detached from their societies; governments came and went and the people never felt any sense of change. In Venezuela and throughout the region democracy and economic development can only take place if those currently outside the process get the opportunity to participate. The Deputy Secretary also highlighted the rise of new dangers to Latin American democracies. Whereas in the past civilian democracies were brought down by military coups, the new threat is that democratically elected populists, once in office, have worked slowly to dismantle the key institutions of democracy, including independent media, the courts, and legislatures. Fujimori did exactly this, before Chavez. 18. (C) In addition to his behavior on the domestic scene, the Deputy Secretary confirmed, Chavez' actions have destabilized Bolivia and Colombia, revived the Chile-Bolivia territorial dispute, and meddled in Central America. The USG does not want to isolate Venezuela, but we do worry about legitimizing Chavez. In this context, the USG was concerned by Spain's sale of weapons to Venezuela, especially since we do not know Chavez' future intentions. 19. (C) President Zapatero underscored Spain's interest in moderating Chavez' behavior and defended its arms being sold to Venezuela as defensive in nature and relevant to combatting drug trafficking and to counterterrorism efforts. He said that the ship sale had emerged from discussions between Chavez and Spanish unions during Chavez' visit to Spain in November 2004. Zapatero had not expected the sale to generate so much concern, but had found himself consumed by the issue for the last ten days. 20. (C) The Deputy Secretary noted the importance of political symbols in Latin America. Many regional leaders were worried about Chavez and many of those same leaders had great respect for Spain. In that sense, the sale could be interpreted as a message of broader Spanish support for Chavez. If Spain now believes it has a measure of influence over Chavez, the USG hopes Spain will make good use of it. ================== FOREIGN AID ================== 21. (C) Zapatero said Spain's strong economic growth had allowed it to increase official assistance to Latin America. He had joined presidents Lula and Lagos in the "Alliance Against Hunger." One objective was to establish an international tax to help meet Millenium Development goals. He said Spain believed countries should spend .7 percent of GDP on development assistance, and Spain would definitely reach .5 percent of GDP. Similar assistance from the EU had been essential for Spain. Without it, refugees from Africa and other poor regions will swamp Europe. He also described development assistance as a bulwark against Islamic extremism. 22. (C) The Deputy Secretary pointed out that USG foreign aid had doubled under President Bush to USDOLS 20 billion annually. He added, however, that it was difficult to maintain political support for such assistance and ensure its effectiveness if it was not connected to reform and the fight against corruption. Too often aid money had lined the pockets of despots, causing the U.S. public to question the utility of foreign aid and the populations of poor countries to believe that aid did not help them. Aid should be connected to the development of open societies, the rule of law, and monitoring of how foreign assistance is used. The Deputy Secretary also underlined the importance of the successful conclusion of the Doha Round. ========================= U.S.-SPAIN RELATIONS ========================= 23. (C) On bilateral relations, Zapatero said he would never ask the USG to do something it could not do and, in turn, did not want to be asked to do something he did not believe in. Zapatero said he understood President Bush was upset with his decision to withdraw Spanish forces from Iraq, but insisted that he had maintained a consistent position on Iraq, made clear this position in the election campaign, and said he had followed his convictions and commitments in carrying out the withdrawal. He said he was not bothered by Washington's reaction; he could understand the President's perspective. 24. (C) Zapatero regretted not having engaged with the U.S. prior to winning the 2004 election, but it wasn't because he wasn't available. Zapatero complained that U.S. visitors to Spain did not seek him out during his four years as opposition leader. The lack of contact was ironic since, the State Department had sponsored his 1990 participation in a group of young leaders who traveled to the U.S. as International Visitor grantees. Zapatero said this was a good trip. He learned then and subsequently that the U.S. was a great country with great successes, which sometimes also "created great problems." 25. (C) Zapatero said he was aware that there would always be some hesitation on the part of the USG regarding his government, but also said he understood that "nothing is more important than deeds." He pointed to Afghanistan as one demonstration of Spain's commitment to support the United States when our values coincide. Spain would remain in Afghanistan as long as necessary to meet its commitment. MANZANARES
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