ID : 57678
Date : 2006-03-22 17:33:00
Origin : 06MADRID722
Source : Embassy Madrid
Classification : CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno : 06STATE40904
Destination : VZCZCXRO8353
DE RUEHMD #0722/01 0811733 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 221733Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9231
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHTO/AMEMBASSY MAPUTO PRIORITY 0157
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0085
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 5942
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 1819
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000722
E.O. 12958 : DECL : 03/21/2016
TAGS : PREL, PGOV, SP
SUBJECT : VICE PRESIDENT ON SYRIA, AFRICA, BILATERAL RELATIONS
A. STATE 40904
B. STATE 41315
Classified By : DCM Bob Manzanares ; reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
1. (C) Summary. The Ambassador met with Vice President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega on March 21 to review key bilateral issues and to relay USG messages on Syria, Venezuela, and Libya. On Syria, the Ambassador reviewed USG concerns regarding FM Moratinos’ travel to Damascus and urged Spain to adhere to the international consensus on high-level contacts with Syria. Regarding Venezuela, the Ambassador said the USG was very concerned by reports that aircraft maker EADS CASA was looking for substitutes for U.S. components in order to complete its proposed sale of twelve planes to Venezuela. On Libya, the Ambassador noted news reports that Spain planned to refurbish four Chinook helicopters and explained that Libya remained on the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, creating a legal barrier to transfers of U.S. military components to Libya. Vice President de la Vega thanked the Ambassador for the USG’s response to a Spanish request for judicial cooperation in the case of Jose Couso, the Spanish news cameraman killed by U.S. fire during the takeover of Baghdad in 2003. De la Vega, who recently returned from a visit to Subsaharan Africa, stressed the growing importance of Africa for Spanish security and urged strong USG engagement in the region. This meeting underscored the importance of maintaining a good channel to Vice President de la Vega, who clearly acts as the "CEO" of the Zapatero government. End Summary.
2. (C) The two-hour meeting at the Ambassador’s residence was warm and relaxed throughout. Vice President de la Vega said she believed bilateral relations were on a positive track and underlined President Zapatero’s strong interest in "normal" relations with the U.S. (NOTE : She did not raise the issue of high-level visits in either direction. END NOTE). She expressed the Spanish government’s appreciation for the USG response to the Spanish request for judicial cooperation in the Jose Couso case. De la Vega said Attorney General Conde Pumpido had briefed her on the excellent cooperation he had enjoyed from the Embassy and U.S. authorities in helping bring this case to a conclusion. She suggested establishing regular meetings with the Ambassador every 45 days to ensure full communication on important issues.
3. (C) Vice President de la Vega asked for Ambassador’s views on the state of bilateral relations. The Ambassador said that relations were good, but that there were some areas of concern on the U.S. side. In particular, there was significant concern regarding FM Moratinos’ recent visit to Damascus and plans to make an official visit in April, which appeared to break an international consensus restricting high-level exchanges with the Syrian government. The Ambassador reviewed REF A and B points and explained that the USG was providing its views on the planned visit to Syria at FM Moratinos’ request. Vice President de la Vega said that there had been no change in Spanish policy towards Syria, but also said Moratinos had "good ideas" on how to alleviate tensions in the region. The Ambassador replied that, while the USG appreciated FM Moratinos’ expertise and good intensions, his visit to Damascus sent the wrong message and undermined efforts to win Syrian cooperation with UNSC resolutions. He noted that the Embassy was seeking a meeting with Moratinos (who is on travel) in order to relay these views directly to him.
4. (C) Turning to Venezuela, the Ambassador said the USG was concerned by reports that Spanish aircraft maker EADS CASA planned to find substitutes for U.S. components in its aircraft in order to complete a sale of twelve planes to Venezuela. The Ambassador noted that he and other U.S. officials would attend the March 22-23 rollout of an EADS CASA model being produced for the U.S. Coast Guard ; it would be unfortunate to have this positive deal overshadowed by an EADS CASA deal with Venezuela on which the USG had already made its views known. Vice President de la Vega did not respond to the Ambassador’s comments on this issue.
5. (C) The Ambassador said press reports of plans for a large Spanish weapons sale to Libya had also caught the USG’s attention, particularly reports that the plans included
MADRID 00000722 002 OF 002
refurbishment of four Chinook helicopters by the Spanish division of Eurocopter. The Ambassador explained that the USG and Libya were working towards an improved relationship, but that Libya remained on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, which created legal barriers to the transfer of U.S. military technology to Libya. Vice President de la Vega said she was not aware of a possible sale to Libya and urged the Ambassador to relay any concerns to Minister of Defense Bono.
6. (C) De la Vega reviewed her recent trip to Mozambique and Kenya, as well as her visit to a migrant holding facility in the Canary Islands. She said it was becoming ever more apparent that Africa would represent a significant security challenge for Spain for some time to come and that much needed to be done to improve social conditions in order to ease migration pressures. De la Vega urged strong USG engagement in the region. The Ambassador reviewed for the Vice President U.S. support for Africa through the Millenium Challenge Account and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, as well as USG funding to counter AIDS, malaria, and other health threats. De la Vega said there was room for increased U.S.-EU cooperation in this area.
7. (C) We remain impressed by Vice President de la Vega’s ability to manage the broad range of domestic and international interests of the Zapatero government. She acts as the "CEO" of the administration, personally handling the most sensitive projects and carrying out the difficult job of maintaining internal discipline. De la Vega is a tough-minded, but reliable interlocutor and we are well served by strengthening our level of communication with her.