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Rumsfeld Discusses NATO, Afghanistan With Spain’s Defense Minister

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2006 – The United States and Spain have an important bilateral relationship, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today after a meeting with his Spanish counterpart.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld escorts Spanish Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso through a cordon of honor guards and into the Pentagon, Oct. 23. The two defense leaders met to discuss a range of international issues of mutual interest. Photo by James M. Bowman

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Rumsfeld and Spanish Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso discussed a range of issues during a meeting in the Pentagon and spoke to the media afterward.

The delegations discussed a number of bilateral and NATO issues. “We also talked about international issues and our responsibilities with the international community and how we keep moving forward in the very complex and changing world we are in,” Alonso said.

Speaking of the strong relationship between the two countries, Rumsfeld noted the United States has bases in Spain. “We cooperate on a great many things, like for example in Afghanistan,” he said. “We are not as active, but interested in the outcome in Lebanon. Of course Spain is very deeply involved (there).”

Rumsfeld said the United States and Spain “don’t always agree on everything, but we have a good, solid relationship that we value.”

Spain, as part of NATO, is part of a major command shift in Afghanistan, where all 26 NATO nations are participating in operations under the auspices of the International Security Assistance Force. Servicemembers from all NATO members and 16 other nations make up ISAF.

Alonso said that out of the nations in Afghanistan, Spain has the eighth largest contingent. Spain is adding 150 soldiers to the contribution to protect provincial reconstruction teams in western Afghanistan.

Spain also has suffered from terrorism. Basque separatists have plagued the country for a generation, and on March 11, 2004, al Qaeda struck in Madrid. Terrorists detonated 10 bombs on crowded commuter trains during rush hour. A total of 191 people were killed. Spanish investigative services and the judicial system have aggressively sought to arrest and prosecute suspected al Qaeda members and actively cooperate with foreign governments to diminish the transnational terrorist threat.

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