According to Cadena Ser this morning, Jose Maria Aznar held a secret meeting with Donald Rumsfeld in Washington yesterday, prior to his meeting with Bush today.
Aznar, who has gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times and spoken in several events since he arrived in the US last week has underlined each time his opposition to the Spanish withdrawal from Iraq. He has said that the withdrawal is a bad decision, which portrays Spain as a weak nation giving in to terrorism because of the 11-M bombings. He has not obviously mentioned the fact that withdrawel was official Socialist policy from the moment Aznar decided to send troops to participate in the invasion of Iraq in contrary to the wishes of over 90% of the Spanish population. Throughout his visit to the US, Aznar has preferred not to meet with Spanish reporters, saying that his visit is a private one and he does not intend to give a press conference.
The Spanish Ambassador in the US, who was appointed by Aznar’s PP government, has also declined to talk to the Spanish media about this private visit, although he has provided the former Spanish president with official cars and other logistical infrastructure.
According to the Cadena Ser, Aznar had a secret lunch meeting yesterday in Washington with Donald Rumsfeld and possibly with some members of the US Congress which lasted for one hour. Aznar was accompanied to the Pentagon by a member of the Spanish Embassy. Like people all over the World, Spanish people have been absolutely horrified by the photos of US soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqui prisoners, and Donald Rumsfeld has been strongly criticised by many political commentators for not resigning as a result.
Jose Maria Aznar’s meetings with Donald Rumsfeld and President George Bush (he is scheduled to meet Bush today), and his continuous referrals to his personal opinion about the Socialist Government’s decision to withdraw from Iraq have been received with alarm in some PP circles.
Even the pro-PP newspaper, ABC, publishes an editorial today criticising Aznar’s declarations during his visit to the USA. The ABC maintains that Aznar’s constant references to Spain’s role in Iraq are damaging the Popular Party’s chances of winning the European Elections next month. “….It would be more prudent for Aznar to refrain from underlining his opinion about Iraq now that the new Government, the Spanish Congress and his own party have made irreversible decisions…”