The last Spanish troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq today

According to reports on the radio and on newspaper websites this morning, the last 600 Spanish soldiers have left the military base in the southern Iraqi town of Diwaniya today. In a few hours time they are expected to cross the border into Kuwait and from there will start the journey home.

Most of the troops left the base on April 28th after withdrawing from the main Spanish base at Najaf, but 600 stayed to dismantle materials and supplies and to coordinate the hand-over of responsibilities to the US forces. Operations were formally transferred last Sunday.

The US Government has still not found any country prepared to offer troops to replace the Spanish contingent and will probably find it difficult to do so given the way they are handling the crisis. There is a general feeling of relief here amongst the majority of Spaniards not to be linked anymore to US management of this conflict.

Yesterday Spain’s foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos visited the UK and had a meeting with Jack Straw.

Usually whenever the Spanish and British foreign ministers meet, headlines in Spain inevitably refer to Gibraltar. This time they refer to the European Union too. Apparently both ministers admitted that they had minor differences of opinion about the votes system in the eventual European Constitution, but that they hoped to be able to solve them. They also said that no date has been fixed to start conversations centering around the issue of Gibraltar.