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Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal US views about Spain

EL PAÍS given secret cablegrams along with other news outlets

EL PAÍS, in collaboration with other news outlets in Europe and the United States, released late Sunday a long-awaited batch of secret cables from the US State Department that were provided by Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website. Among the more than 250,000 messages, some 3,620 deal with Spain, including how US diplomats have viewed the Spanish government and its ministers since 2004.

The cables, which EL PAÍS will publish over the next few days, give details behind the most aggravating episodes between the United States and its Spanish ally. There is evidence of diplomatic friction between Washington and Madrid over a number of issues, including the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, Madrid's links with Cuba and Venezuela, and Spain's relations with countries known to support terrorism.

The three US ambassadors during this period- George L. Argyros, Eduardo Aguirre and the incumbent Alan D. Solomont- sent cables to Washington concerning Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's Socialist government, with copies sometimes going to the CIA. Zapatero's 2004 election win generated a wave of cablegrams, in which US diplomats attributed his victory to the poor handling of the Madrid train bombings by the previous Popular Party government.

With the exception of King Juan Carlos, US officials are less than enthusiastic about their Spanish counterparts and some are described in unflattering terms. In one cable, advice is given on how to win the king's admiration.