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Viewing cable 05MADRID2653, AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT ZAPATERO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MADRID2653 2005-07-14 12:12 2010-12-07 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

141216Z Jul 05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 002653 
 
SIPDIS 
 
EUR FOR A/S FRIED 
NSC FOR NSA HADLEY 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/13/2015 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER SP VZ
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT ZAPATERO 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre; reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  Ambassador Aguirre had his first meeting 
with President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on July 12 to 
introduce himself and to review the USG roadmap for improving 
bilateral relations.  The 90-minute meeting was cordial and 
relaxed throughout and covered a broad range of bilateral and 
regional issues.  The Ambassador said he would use his 
position to speak frequently and directly to the people of 
Spain regarding America's interests through extensive travel 
and media access.  Zapatero said Spain wants a good 
relationship with the USG.  He said he had long gotten past 
his opposition to the war in Iraq and was focused on 
supporting Iraqi reconstruction.  The Ambassador said that 
the USG had also moved beyond the dispute over Iraq and 
looked forward to positive GOS actions and statements in 
support of Iraqi reconstruction.  President Zapatero focused 
much of his discussion on Latin America, emphasizing the 
importance Spain placed on protecting its investments in this 
increasingly politically unsettled region.  He said Spain had 
pressed Venezuela to improve its behavior, both domestically 
and at the regional level, but said regional leaders had 
counseled him on the need to avoid "isolating" Chavez.  The 
Ambassador expressed appreciation for Spain's recent 
statement supporting Venezuelan NGO "Sumate" against GOV 
legal action and said the USG hoped Spain would use private 
and public pressure to move Venezuela in a positive 
direction.  Zapatero defended Spanish policy towards Cuba, 
saying it was imperitive for the GOS to establish ties with 
Castro's likely successors.  Zapatero noted the importance of 
North Africa for Spain, particularly since many of the 
terrorist suspects active in Spain are from Morocco.  This 
was an excellent first encounter with President Zapatero that 
allowed the Ambassador to underline the USG's interest in 
moving forward on a positive agenda.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) The Ambassador and DCM met with President Zapatero and 
National Security Adviser Carles Casajuana in the the 
Presidential Palace.  The Ambassador thanked Zapatero for the 
warm welcome provided by Spanish officials, particularly in 
arranging his early accreditation and a series of meetings 
with key leaders and cabinet officials during his first three 
weeks in Spain.  Zapatero welcomed the Ambassador and 
emphasized his desire to have good relations with the U.S. 
Though Zapatero sometimes has a tendency to interrupt other 
speakers and to dominate conversations, in this meeting he 
was very engaging and listened attentively to the 
Ambassador's points. 
 
//BILATERAL RELATIONS// 
 
3. (C) Zapatero said that Iraq was clearly at the root of the 
bilateral disagreements that had taken place over the last 
year and, while he had disagreed with the U.S. intervention, 
he had moved past these differences and wanted to focus on 
the rebuilding of a stable, democratic Iraq.  He said Spain 
would continue to cooperate financially with in this effort. 
Zapatero then reviewed key areas of mutual interest, saying 
the U.S. and Spain could disagree on certain issues, but that 
his government would raise any differences in a sincere, 
transparent, and friendly manner.  On counter terrorism, an 
area of good U.S.-Spain cooperation, he said that jihadists 
were clearly active in Spain and expressed concern that 
Spain-based extremists may have had a role in the London 
subway/bus attacks.  He said Spain would continue to 
cooperate with the USG on terrorism finance issues.  Zapatero 
noted his government's efforts to build a strong 
counter-terrorism relationship with Morocco and to ease 
Moroccan-Algerian tensions, iniatives he saw as dovetailing 
with USG objectives in North Africa.  He said that Spain also 
desired a good U.S.-EU relationship and pointed to President 
Bush's speech in Brussels as a clear indication of a similar 
desire on the part of the USG.  Zapatero highlighted Spain's 
good investment climate and urged greater U.S. investment. 
He said Spain wanted to increase its engagement with the 
growing Hispanic community in the U.S.  Zapatero said Spain's 
solid economic growth generated sufficient revenues for the 
GOS to contribute to development efforts in many regions. 
 
4. (C) The Ambassador said that the USG also desired a good 
relationship with Spain.  He said that he would act as the 
face and voice of President Bush in Spain and stressed the 
importance of building confidence and credibility between 
himself and GOS officials.  The Ambassador said he would 
speak frequently and directly to the people of Spain 
regarding America's interests through extensive travel and 
broad media access.  He noted his extensive experience in 
Latin America, as a government executive, and as a 
businessman.  The Ambassador said the USG had gotten past the 
withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, but it had proven 
more difficult to get past the negative GOS rhetoric that had 
followed the withdrawal.  What the USG hoped for now was 
positive Spanish action and public statements on Iraq and on 
other issues important to the USG, such as the need for 
democratic reforms in the Broader Middle East and North 
Africa.  The Ambassador said he also wanted to hear from GOS 
officials to learn more about Spanish policy in North Africa, 
which was important to the USG, but was obviously an even 
greater priority for Madrid. 
 
//LATIN AMERICA// 
 
5. (C) President Zapatero discussed Spain's important and 
growing interests in Latin America, noting that extensive 
Spanish investment in the region meant that Spain would 
suffer economically from any downturn or instability there. 
He reviewed political conditions in Argentina, Bolivia, 
Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Central America.  He made clear 
that Spanish business interests would generally trump 
political considerations on any given country or issue. 
Zapatero appeared particularly concerned regarding the threat 
to Spanish investments in Bolivia's oil and gas industry.  He 
said Spain thought Mesa had been a good leader and worried 
about the surge in indigenous group unrest and populist 
leaders.  On Brazil, he said the GOS was troubled by 
President Lula's recent difficulties since it undermined Lula 
as a symbol of a democratic alternative to the populist 
message driven by others in the region.  Zapatero cited the 
lack of development in Central America as particularly 
disappointing for Spain.  The Ambassador discussed USG 
efforts to win support for CAFTA as indicative of similar 
U.S. concerns in Central America.  Zapatero said Spain was 
providing judicial assistance to Colombia and other countries 
and planned to strengthen judicial cooperation throughout the 
region in the course of the Ibero American Summit in 
Salamanca, Spain in October. 
 
6. (C) On Venezuela, Zapatero said Spain's policy of 
engagement with the GOV was based on advice from regional 
leaders not to isolate Chavez.  The Ambassador said USG 
policy was not aimed at isolating Chavez, but we had to be 
realistic and do everything possible to keep him from 
exporting his populist, anti-democratic model.  In that 
sense, Zapatero's attentions gave Chavez a legitimacy that he 
might otherwise lack.  The Ambassador said the USG very much 
appreciated the recent GOS statements critical of GOV action 
against Venezuelan NGO "Sumate," and expected that Spain 
would continue to use both public statements and private 
influence to move Venezuela in the right direction.  Zapatero 
said Spain had pressed Chavez to improve relations with 
Colombia and urged Venezuela to institute strict controls on 
the AK-47 assault rifles purchased from Russia. 
 
XXXXXXXXXXXX
//NORTH AFRICA// 
 
8. (C) Zapatero said that increased development and 
integration in North Africa were important for all of Europe, 
but especially for Spain.  He cited the lack of economic 
growth in the region combined with increased radicalization 
within disenfranchised populations as major risks to Spanish 
security.  Zapatero said that Morocco was the point of origin 
for most terrorist suspects active in Spain and that this 
factor alone made increased cooperation with Rabat a crucial 
objective for the GOS.  He said King Mohamed was deeply 
concerned about terrorism and had pressed for greater 
security cooperation with Spain on the part of Moroccan 
security agencies.  Zapatero said this would also serve USG 
interests in the fight against terrorism. 
 
//"THE EU IS SET"// 
 
9. (C) Zapatero said that the current internal EU discord 
would not stop forward progress; fundamentally, "the EU is 
set," regardless of any bumps on the road to further 
integration.  He said this fact obviated the long-running 
internal debate in Spain over whether to pursue an 
ever-greater European identity or maintain a more independent 
national character. 
 
AGUIRRE