2004-05-24 11:47:00
Embassy Madrid
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 001871 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2014

Classified By: Political Counselor Kathleen Fitzpatrick per 1.4 (b) and


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 001871


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2014

Classified By: Political Counselor Kathleen Fitzpatrick per 1.4 (b) and


1. (C) NEA A/S William Burns paid a five-hour visit to
Madrid May 18, meeting with President Zapatero's new National
Security Advisor, Carlos Casajuana, and the new Deputy
Foreign Minister, Bernardino Leon. The Spanish expressed a
desire to work with the US on such issues as encouraging
better relations between Morocco and Algeria, and making
progress on the Western Sahara. A/S Burns reviewed US policy
on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the public
affairs side, A/S Burns was the featured guest at a
roundtable for 30 opinion leaders on US Middle East policy at
a prominent think tank. He also gave an interview which
appeared in Spain's leading daily, El Pais. Press coverage
of the visit was favorable. Middle East issues were in the
forefront in Madrid during the Burns visit, which coincided
with the Israeli Foreign Minister,s visit and the
Palestinian PM,s visit the following day. End Summary.

Casajuana: President Zapatero's Foreign Policy Advisor

2. (C) Carles Casajuana, newly appointed Director for
International Affairs for President Zapatero (analogous to
National Security Advisor),received A/S Burns at the Moncloa
Presidential complex. Casajuana said that despite the
withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, the Zapatero
government looked forward to cooperation with the US.
Casajuana said the USG reaction to the Spanish pullout had
been measured and "we had avoided a collapse in relations."
Regarding increasing Spain's military forces in Afghanistan,
Casajuana said that the issue was under active consideration
but that there had been no final decision.

3. (C) Casajuana noted that Israeli FM Shalom would meet
with Zapatero that afternoon and that Palestinian PM Qurei
would be in Madrid May 20 and would also meet with Zapatero.
Casajuana described the Israeli-Palestinian situation as
"very bleak." A/S Burns said the US was committed to
engaging PM Qurei, as evidenced by Qurei's meetings with the
Secretary and NSA Rice in recent days.


4. (C) Casajuana raised the March 11 Madrid terror attacks

on commuter trains. He said it was "astonishing" that
Moroccans who, by all appearances, were westernized and doing
reasonably well in Spain, would do this. The willingness of
seemingly middle class immigrants to engage in such acts was
deeply troubling, he said. Casajuana said this "sociological
phenomenon" merited intense analysis, but speculated that the
terrorist impulse of ostensibly integrated immigrants stems
from a deep sense of humiliation. Casajuana noted that many
Moroccan immigrants have a positive view of bin Laden.
Combating this will be a major challenge.

5. (C) Turning to Iraq, Casajuana said that the UN's Brahimi
had a difficult task, indeed "we are asking him for a
miracle" to form a caretaker government with legitimacy.
Casajuana again turned to the theme of Arab humiliation.
The Abu Ghraib prison abuses had intensified existing
feelings of Arab humiliation. Casajuana said that "we are
extremely concerned" that public opinion in Spain and
throughout Europe is so "terrible" regarding the US.
Casajuana added, however, that Spain would play a positive,
constructive role in the UNSC deliberations on the Iraq

6. (C) A/S Burns said that the US and Spain could work
together on the Maghreb. Casajuana said that Zapatero's
April visit to Casablanca had been a success and that
Zapatero had made it a top priority to put relations with
Morocco "on a different track." Morocco had followed up
with a visit by the Interior Minister and the King's advisors
to discuss security and counterterrorism issues. Moratinos
had already been to Algiers. Casajuana confirmed that press
reports on Zapatero,s visit had erroneously left the
impression that Spain was backing away from the Baker plan.
Casajuana said the GOS supported the Baker plan.

7. (C) A/S Burns noted that the US would have the
opportunity to engage King Mohammed when he visits Washington
in July. Bouteflika will also visit Sea Island for the G-8
Summit in June. Burns noted that Special Envoy Baker remains
actively engaged in mediation efforts between Morocco and
Algeria. Casajuana agreed and said that the US and Spain
share the same goal of lessening tensions between Morocco and
Algeria and that he looked forward to working together on

Deputy Foreign Minister Bernardino Leon

8. (C) FM Moratinos was in Brussels during the visit of A/S
Burns. In place of Moratinos, Deputy FM Bernardino Leon
hosted A/S Burns to a working lunch that included other
members of the MFA team involved in Middle East and North
African affairs. Leon began the lunch with the Maghreb. He
noted that the Zapatero government seeks "equilibrium" in
Spanish relations with Morocco and Algeria. The Aznar
government, having fallen out with Morocco, favored Algeria.
The Zapatero government would seek to build on good relations
with Algeria while working to significantly improve relations
with Morocco.

9. (C) Leon said there had been no change in the Spanish
position on Western Sahara despite media reports to the
contrary. The media had picked up on friendly comments
Zapatero had made during his Casablanca visit in April and
wrongly interpreted this as a change in GOS policy. Leon
said that Algeria had also felt that there had a been a
change in policy and that he has had some "tough
conversations" with Algerian counterparts.

10. (C) Leon said that with both Spain and Algeria in the
UNSC there might be possibilities for progress on the Western
Sahara impasse when the MINURSO mandate comes up once again
for renewal in six months. Leon said he looked forward to
exchanging ideas with the US on this during the next six
months. He suggested that the US, France and Spain might
work together on Western Sahara and on improving
Algerian-Moroccan relations generally.

11. (C) A/S Burns said the USG welcomed the opportunity to
work together with Spain in mending relations between Morocco
and Algeria, and in making progress on Western Sahara. A/S
Burns reiterated that both King Mohammed and President
Bouteflika would be in the US in the next few months,
offering opportunities for engagement on this issue.

12. (C) On Libya, Leon said that he would likely visit there
in the coming weeks. Spain would continue to support
Libya's renunciation of terrorism and WMD and its
reintegration into the international community. Leon said
that Zapatero would not go to Libya any time soon, but that
eventually he would be willing to travel there, as Aznar had
done. On Tunisia, Leon said that some repressive tactics by
the government against the press were "of concern." Leon
noted that it was paradoxical that the Tunisian government
would be heavy handed regarding freedom of speech given
Tunisia's relative prosperity and good record on other rights

13. (C) Turning to Israeli-Palestinian issues, Leon asked
what topped the list of what the Palestinians need to
deliver. A/S Burns stressed the need, as outlined in the
roadmap, for unity of Palestinian security forces and for
cracking down on terrorists. Leon said that Moratinos did
not want to travel to the Middle East anytime soon.
Moratinos is interested in moving away from the label of
being Middle East focused. He doesn't know Latin America,
for example, and has to get smart on those issues. Thus,
Leon indicated he (Leon) would be the one focusing most
closely on the Middle East for MFA and that he would "protect
Miguel (Moratinos) for a while." Leon said he had recently
met with Arafat; he and Burns differed on the appropriate
role for Arafat, as the U.S. continues to make clear that
Arafat is not a viable partner.

14. (C) Leon stressed his interest in working with A/S Burns
and the USG on these issues. He said that EU budget support
was critical for Arafat and the EU would use it as a lever.
If Israel withdraws completely from Gaza, the EU would
pressure Arafat to make concessions, Leon said.

15. (C) Moving to Syria, Leon confirmed that Bashir Assad
was likely to visit around June 1-2. Leon said he would go
to Damascus before Assad's visit to push for a serious agenda
for the trip. He said that if there was something the US
wanted Spain to convey, "let us know."

16. (C) On a new UNSCR for Iraq, Leon said that we agree on
the "main lines." The Spanish side believes that "positions
seem to be converging" and that there is widening consensus
among EU partners. Leon said Spain would play a
constructive role in the UNSC on this issue and would not
work on parallel tracks. A/S Burns noted that the Russian
idea for two resolutions had not caught fire with anyone.
Leon said Spain was still examining the idea.

17. (C) Burns noted our continued desire for reform in the
Middle East, and said that he hoped the Arab League summit
(which Tunisian President Ben Ali had told him would be held)
would endorse regional reform. This remains an important
project, which should focus on concrete steps and problems.
Leon agreed, adding that Spain appreciated that the
initiative would not supercede the Barcelona process; Burns
noted the need for continued complementarity and said that
the initiative was not meant to overtake other processes.
Public Affairs

18. (C) A/S Burns had an on-the-record roundtable at the
FRIDE think tank during his visit. FRIDE has associations
with FM Moratinos and the Socialist party. In attendance
were 30 prominent opinion leaders. In addition, A/S Burns
gave an interview to leading daily El Pais. El Pais ran a
favorable story about his visit on May 19, as did the
conservative daily, ABC.


19. (C) Casajuana and Leon were cordial and cooperative in
their meetings with A/S Burns, as they have been in other
early encounters we have had since they assumed office in
April. Despite the strong criticism of the US from the
Socialist party, foreign policy interlocutors in the Zapatero
government continue to express the desire to work closely
with us. Political optics are, however, paramount to
Zapatero and his inner circle. Regardless of the goodwill
expressed by our foreign policy interlocutors, their room for
maneuver is limited by the political considerations that are
paramount right now in the Socialist government's strategy.

20. (U) NEA has cleared this message.