Panetta Arrives in Spain on Second Leg of European Trip
American Forces Press Service
MADRID, Jan. 15, 2013 Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta arrived here today on his weeklong visit to European allies.
The secretary told reporters traveling with him that Spain is an important NATO leader and a vital ally to the United States.
“In my discussions, I'll have an opportunity to touch on a full range of issues, including greater cooperation with Spain on cyber and the cyber arena,” he said.
Spain has maintained a strong commitment to the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Panetta said, and he also will discuss with Spanish leaders the ongoing transition to a noncombat role for ISAF forces there.
Panetta noted that on his first trip to Europe as secretary, he announced the deployment of four Aegis ships to Rota, Spain. “The purpose of that is to fulfill our commitment to the European ballistic missile defense system,” he said. “The deployment is important, because it demonstrated how this alliance is making investments to meet the new challenges that we're confronting.”
The secretary left Lisbon, Portugal, the first stop on his visit, earlier today. While here, he is scheduled to meet with Crown Prince Felipe at Zarzuela Palace, the chief residence of King Juan Carlos.
Panetta also has separate meetings scheduled with Spanish President Mariano Rajoy Brey and Defense Minister Pedro Morenes Eulate. The two defense leaders are scheduled to hold a joint news conference later today.