Condoleeza Rice critices Spain prior to visit

Rice criticises Spain over Cuba 2 days before official visit

Condoleeza Rice, the US Secretary of Sate, criticised Spain over meetings with officials from the Cuban government. while speaking to journalists on a flight bound for Europe on Tuesday.

Rice referred to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, who visited Cuba recently and met with members of the Cuban government but not with any members of dissident groups.

She said that she was ‘not sure whether Spain and the US coincided with each other’ in reference to their policies towards Cuba. Although she did state that she was sure that both countries agreed over the need for democracy in Cuba and that a country like Spain which has been capable of overcoming years of authoritarian rule peacefully and hand freedom to its citizens understands that Cubans deserve the same.

She also went on to say that it wasn’t clear how meeting with the current regime, whose objective is to continue undemocratically, could further this aim.

Whilst Moratinos had meetings with important Cuban government officials another member of his team, the General Director for Iberoamerica, Javier San Domingo, only spoke to representatives from dissident groups by telephone.

Nevertheless Rice did stress that Spain was an important NATO ally. She also emphasised that the two countries had worked well together over Afghanistan.
Rice is due to visit Spain on Friday during a week long trip to Europe where she will be attending a meeting of the G8 in Potsdam, Germany. She is scheduled to meet with government officials including Moratinos. This will be the first time a member of the Bush administration has visited Spain since Zapatero became president in April 2004.