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Cable sobre el seguimiento del Gobierno español del 'caso Couso'

Aguirre informa, en 2007, sobre asuntos de defensa y habla de una reunión con De la Vega sobre el proceso por la muerte del cámara.

ID: 108143
Date: 2007-05-14 17:44:00
Origin: 07MADRID911
Source: Embassy Madrid
Destination: VZCZCXRO4693
DE RUEHMD #0911/01 1341744
O 141744Z MAY 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 000911




E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2017

Classified By: Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre for reasons 1.4 b & d.

1. (C/NF) Dan, welcome back to Spain. I appreciate your
patience and efforts to finally resolve the NCIS/OSI issue
and I'm glad that you've made this High-Level Defense
Committee (HLDC) meeting a priority. Now that the Permanent
Committee is back on track, handling routine issues at the
staff level, we can use the HLDC forum to share views and set
strategic direction on key international policy issues like
Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Couso case, missile defense, the
NATO Summit in 2008, and future US use of Moron and Rota
military bases. As we've discussed before, Spain can at
times be a difficult partner, but never more so than when it
feels ignored. This meeting, along with Secretary Rice's
visit in a few weeks, should reassure the GOS that we take it
seriously, but while reminding MOD that we have high
expectations of such important partners.


2. (C/NF) The DCM, the Embassy's political-military team, and
I travel regularly to Rota and Moron, the Spanish bases where
nearly 3000 US troops and dependents live and work. With
each successive visit, I am more impressed by the important
activities and outstanding working-level cooperation at the
bases. The Czech Deputy Prime Minister, planning for the
possibility of US missile defense installations in his
country, recently visited Rota in order to understand how the
US military behaves as a tenant. Perhaps on your next trip
you'll be able to travel to southern Spain to get a better
idea of the key role that the bases play in US efforts in
Iraq, Afghanistan, and other operations. As you know, it is
taking MOD longer than we expected to implement its new
interagency process for reviewing proposed Naval Criminal
Investigative Service and USAF Office of Special
Investigations activities. We continue to press them to
speed the process so that we can begin to implement the
agreement and our investigators can get back to work.


3. (C/NF) Despite the limitations imposed by Spanish domestic
politics, which are foremost in every minister's mind, due to
nationwide local/regional elections in two weeks and national
elections within the year, Spain remains a stalwart ally in
Afghanistan. Though not currently in a position to increase
the 690-soldier troop ceiling that Parliament set, the GOS
insists that it is committed to maintain current levels for
the long haul. Your primary interlocutor, MOD Secretary
General for Policy Luis Cuesta, recently spent a week in
Kabul and Herat with his counterpart from MFA. They both
returned relatively optimistic that NATO-ISAF is making
progress but understanding more clearly than ever that NATO
won't be able to leave anytime soon. Top MOD leaders have
also told us privately that CHOD General Sanz has initiated
discussions in Brussels regarding the possibility that Spain
would staff the core of the ISAF HQ in summer 2008, after
Spanish elections. We continue to press the GOS to increase
its public diplomacy efforts, and to consider doing more when
it is able.

4. (C/NF) While the GOS has lately complained about the lack
of coordination between ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom
-- specifically the airstrikes in Herat province that killed
civilians as well as Taliban -- Spain remains active on the
security and reconstruction fronts. The Spanish Provincial
Reconstruction Team (PRT) is well regarded for involving
local Afghanis in its efforts to provide basic services and
critical infrastructure to the people of Badghis province,
but MFA officials note that there is no sign of the central
government or national security forces in the province. While
carefully complying with its caveat, Spanish troops supported
NATO-ISAF's Operation Achilles earlier this spring by sealing
the southern border of their zone. Regarding its Sevilla
Ministerial commitments, MOD sources say that two Spanish
military training teams (OMLTs) will arrive in Afghanistan in
early June to begin training Afghan National Army troops.
They have told us that that these 30-50 soldiers will be in
addition to the 690 troops that are already deployed. The
Spanish Army is also proceeding with its purchase of tactical
UAVs, and expects to have them in the field later this year.

-- KOSOVO --

5. (C/NF) In the Balkans, where its troops have served for
more than 15 years, Spain has shown its ability to maintain
troops for the long-term. Right now, however, we need keep

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making our case to keep troops in Kosovo. For domestic
political reasons and fear of provoking Russia, Spain is
ambivalent about the current direction of Kosovo policy. So
long as there is a UN resolution authorizing the Ahtissari
plan, Spain will maintain its troops in KFOR. If the UN
fails to agree on a new resolution, Spain has said that it
would have to seriously consider pulling its troops out, but
has emphasized that it would do this only in extremis and
only in careful consultation with allies. We need to keep the
pressure on, reminding Spain that NATO has a critical role
and that we can't let the Russians drive a wedge between the
US and Europe on issues like this.


6. (C/NF) Though initially tentative about the US missile
defense (MD) plan, Spain listened carefully to the Missile
Defense Agency Deputy Director BG O'Reilly's presentation in
March, asked some tough questions, and has taken the position
that so long as the US attends to Russian and is willing to
discuss the issue in NATO, it won't stand in the way. MOD
said that it will soon announce support for the development
of a NATO study on the issue. MOD has asked to see a
simulation of how well the proposed MD system would cover
Spain, though it says that it doesn't currently see a
particular threat from Iran and is willing to support the
US's plan primarily as a show of solidarity among allies.
While we need to continue to inform and engage MOD on this
issue, we don't see Spain causing problems on missile defense.

-- NATO --

7. (C/NF) On 2008 NATO Summit issues of enlargement and
partnership, Spain believes that NATO should keep an open
door to European applicants who can qualify. MOD says that
the Balkans should be treated as a single unit, despite their
different stages of development, because it will be important
to future Balkans stability to eventually get them all around
the NATO table. Regarding Ukraine and Georgia, Spain is not
opposed to the idea that they would eventually join NATO, but
says that the best thing at the moment is to wait and see
what direction they choose to go. Spain is a big fan of NATO
partnerships, especially the Mediterranean Dialogue, which it
believes should be strengthened for the sake of fighting
terrorism in North Africa and supporting the current
governments and militaries against extremists. MOD says that
the Med Dialogue countries know that they aren't going to
someday join NATO, but that they should be invited to observe
exercises, included in training, and given other
opportunities to deepen ties and cooperate with NATO.


8. (C/NF) A couple of other key issues will be in the air, if
not actually on the agenda. For our side, it will be
important to continue to raise the Couso case, in which three
US servicemen face charges related to the 2003 death of
Spanish cameraman Jose Couso during the battle for Baghdad.
XXXXXXXXXXXX. I raised this issue with Vice
President de la Vega on April 30. She was supportive but
uncertain that direct GOS involvement would be productive.
DCM spoke late last week with the Deputy Justice Minister,
and we continue to prod the GOS to appeal. We were informed
Monday morning that the Chief Prosecutor of Spain's National
Court has indeed filed an appeal, which will go to the same
court which originally dismissed the case (in 2006) on
procedural grounds. The Deputy DIGENPOL in MOD told the
Embassy last week that MOD completely supports the US
position, and said that he would raise with his superiors the
possibility of making a statement to the court or otherwise
demonstrating support. The Deputy Justice Minister also said
the GOS strongly opposes a case brought against former
Secretary Rumsfeld and will work to get it dismissed. The

judge involved in that case has told us he has already
started the process of dismissing the case.

9. (C/NF) An issue that MOD may raise with you is their
perception of "imbalance" in the defense industrial
relationship. The HLDC is not the most appropriate forum for
a discussion of this issue, especially since Al Volkman,
Director of International Cooperation for acquisitions, will
be in Madrid at the same time as you precisely for the
long-scheduled 17th US-Spain Defense Industrial Cooperation
Committee meeting and the 4th US-Spain Declaration of

MADRID 00000911 003 OF 003

Principles meeting. Nonetheless, Spanish Defense Ministry
officials have seen you with Secretary Gates, and may raise
the issue with you in hopes of getting it top-level
attention. Defense Minister Alonso has raised the issue in
public speeches and his people have raised it in meetings.
They point to Spanish purchases like 24 Tomahawk missiles and
US AEGIS combat systems for its F-100 frigates and S-80 subs,
which the GOS made over the protests of European allies like
France and Germany, and say that while MOD plans to continue
a strong relationship with the US defense industry and knows
that it is getting the best when it buys US, it would
appreciate a "gesture" from the US so that it can show
domestic audiences that Spain gets something out of the
relationship. While we continue to push Spain to buy into
the Joint Strike Fighter program, we know that Spain is very
anxious to learn whether Spanish company EADS-CASA will get
the Joint Cargo Aircraft contract. We try to remind MOD that
while there may be a dollar imbalance in the defense
relationship, Spain benefits from the relationship in other
ways, not only getting the best technology for its military,
but also being able to sell products that include US
technology to third countries.

10. (C/NF) We want to use the HLDC to further strengthen the
Permanent Committee and are pleased that EUCOM will propose
the joint working group as a means to increase EUCOM
involvement on Spanish military issues. Direct and ongoing
communication between MOD and EUCOM at the staff level can
only help us to avoid minor problems that have the potential
to escalate, like NCIS/OSI.