IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Spain backs away further from Iraq role

Spain made clear Friday that it will not send troops back to Iraq even if the international force there is given a United Nations mandate.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Spain will not send troops back to Iraq even if the international force there is given a United Nations mandate, a senior aide to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Friday.

Spain, which withdrew its 1,300 troops this month, still wants the United Nations to have complete military and political control of the situation in Iraq, the aide said.

“We know this is impossible — very difficult, if not impossible,” the aide told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

“As the prime minister said, even in a best-case scenario Spain would never send troops back to Iraq, even with a United Nations resolution,” the aide said.

He was referring to comments Zapatero made in an interview with The New York Times published Friday.

“The mission (of the Spanish contingent) has been completed and it would not make political sense to bring the troops home and then send them back there again. It would be odd, wouldn’t it?” the aide said.

Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos had said Monday that Spain was not considering such a deployment but he appeared to leave open the possibility, depending on what kind of resolution the United Nations approves.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Sunday he expected the Security Council to approve a new resolution authorizing the multinational force in Iraq to remain after June 30, the U.S.-set deadline for restoring sovereignty to Iraqis.

Ahead of March 14 general elections, Zapatero campaigned on a pledge to bring the soldiers home by June 30 unless the United Nations took over political and military control of the occupation.

On April 18, a day after taking office, he abruptly ordered them home, saying he saw no sign his terms would be met.

The 1,300 soldiers who took part in the U.S.-led occupation but up to 1,000 more remain in Iraq packing up military gear to ship it home.