View Full Version : U.S. Warns Spain Over Arms Sales To Venezuela

11-24-2005, 10:02 AM
US warns Spain over arms sales to Venezuela


By Leslie Crawford in Madrid
November 23 2005 21:51

The US on Wednesday warned Spain’s Socialist government that it might block the sale of more than €1bn worth of Spanish military equipment to Venezuela on the grounds that the exports contained US technology.

Eduardo Aguirre, the US ambassador to Madrid, said he hoped Spain would drop plans to sell transport aircraft and coastguard patrol ships to Venezuela. The arms contract was expected to be signed by José Bono, the Spanish defence minister, in a forthcoming trip to Venezuela.

“This immense sale could be a destabilising factor in the region,” Mr Aguirre said at a news conference in Madrid. He said the US was not happy with the attempts of Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, to export his “Bolivarian revolution” to the rest of Latin America.

The contentious arms contract was announced during a visit by José Luis Rodr^guez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, to Venezuela in March, and it immediately caused unease in Washington and Bogotá.

The Bush administration told the Spanish government it did not want an arms race in the region, while Alvaro Uribe, president of Colombia, said the equipment might upset the balance of power in the Caribbean.

Mr Zapatero defended the sale of transport aircraft and patrol boats as “peaceful” military equipment that would help fight drugs trafficking and bring greater stability to the region. To assuage Mr Uribe’s concerns, Mr Zapatero signed a military cooperation agreement with Colombia as well.

But the proposed arms sale continued to worry the US. It has become a further bone of contention in the prickly relations between Spain and the US. Mr Zapatero incurred the wrath of US President George W. Bush when he withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq last year. Since then, relations have been frosty.

11-24-2005, 10:58 AM
Gotta love that 'free' market dontcha?