Spanish Afghan withdrawal to be delayed for six months

Original Socialist plan targeted January recall of some of Spain's contingent

MIGUEL GONZÁLEZ Qala-i-Naw 16 ENE 2012 - 20:11 CET

On his first visit to Afghanistan, Defense Minister Pedro Morenés stated that the planned withdrawal of Spanish forces will be delayed by at least six months.

The previous Socialist government had set this month to begin reducing its contingent but Morenés said there would be no withdrawal before the summer. One of the reasons for this is that the Taliban is at its most active during spring and summer. The Popular Party (PP) government is expected to begin pulling some of Spain's 1,521 troops out at the end of the year.

Morenés also avoided using the term "war" as he visited Spanish bases. The PP had pledged to "recognize the true nature" of forces' missions abroad and had criticized, when in opposition, then Defense Minister Carme Chacón for saying that Spanish troops were deployed in a "military setting." Morenés spoke only of "tactical operations" in an "operative zone."

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