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Military spending cuts will not affect security, says defense chief

King Juan Carlos confident armed forces will do their best with less money

Defense Minister Pedro Moranés said on Friday that the military will have to look for ways to ensure that spending cuts proposed by the new Popular Party (PP) government will not jeopardize national security or affect the manner in which the armed forces operate.

Speaking during the military's annual ceremony ? held in honor of Spain's armed forces at the royal palace and attended by King Juan Carlos ? the new minister said defense officials will, among other things, look "for solutions to financing weapons programs." The Defense Ministry will have to restructure its spending needs based on a leaner budget than the Rajoy administration is proposing, Moranés said, adding that there will be a review of the current structure of Spain's armed forces to seek cost-efficient solutions without having to compromise security.

The king asked the military to do its best with less.

"As we confront this economic crisis, I am confident that you will seek the maximum efficiency of the resources assigned to you, as you have done in the past, and will be very careful in the way you employ and maintain these assets," the monarch said.

As part of its announced 8.9-billion-euro spending cuts for this year, the PP government is proposing that 340 million euros should come from the military's extended budget. However, defense officials will have to also review the estimated 30 billion euros in expenditures that it has amassed over the past 15 years in armament purchases.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attended the ceremony and held a brief meeting with the king. Also attending was the new head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Fernando García Sánchez, and incoming secretary of state for Defense, Pedro Argüelles, who was appointed on Thursday by the Cabinet.

The Princesses Elena and Cristina were not present, and also absent was the embattled royal son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, who is currently facing corruption charges. It has been some years since the king's two daughters and son-in-law last attended the annual military ceremony, which is traditionally held on Three Kings Day.