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Powell Thanks Spain for Political, Material Support in Iraq

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2003 – Secretary of State Colin Powell today thanked one of America's staunchest allies for their support before and during the war in Iraq.

"I hope that the Spanish people will understand that their government and their leader was on the right side of history in this matter," Powell said in a joint media appearance with Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio.

Spain and Great Britain were the two strongest supporters of President Bush's position as the United States was working to garner United Nations support to use force to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime.

The secretary lauded the Spanish government for making the right call on a difficult question: "Should they be part of a coalition that was going to take military action to impose the will of the international community against a regime that was illegitimately acting, that was in violation of so many U.N. resolutions?"

He said that Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar decided Operation Iraqi Freedom was the right thing to do. "And I think what we have seen over the last several weeks makes it absolutely clear that President Aznar was right," Powell said.

The secretary noted that in Iraq coalition forces removed a dictator. "And with each passing day we can see what that dictatorship had done to the Iraqi people and to the infrastructure of the Iraqi nation," he said.

Hussein's victims are being exhumed and their remains returned to their families. In the south, the terror Hussein inflicted upon the Shia population is coming to light. "This was a terrible regime," Powell said. "This was a regime that was deserving of the justice that has been meted out."

Now, Powell said, Spain and many other countries are offering valuable support as "we all come together, not to fight any longer, but to heal, to rebuild a nation, to help people who are in need in need not as a result of this conflict, but in need as a result of 20-plus years of dictatorship."

Palacio noted Spain has already appointed a "high-level commissioner" to coordinate reconstruction efforts and is sending "four high-level civil servants" to Iraq to integrate different areas of support.

"We are willing to consider whatever our help can be in the benefit of the Iraqi people," she said.

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