US embassy cable - 05MADRID1317 (original version)


Identifier: 05MADRID1317
Wikileaks: View 05MADRID1317 at
Origin: Embassy Madrid
Created: 2005-04-06 11:34:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
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 05 MADRID 001317 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2015 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Bob Manzanares; reasons 1.4 (b) and (d 
1. (U) April 2, 2005 
2. (U) Participants: 
The Deputy Secretary 
Charge Bob Manzanares 
EUR Acting A/S Robert Bradtke 
D Executive Assistant Ross Wilson 
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 
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. 
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 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 

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