Mass in Madrid

Today a state funeral was held in Madrid to honour the vicitims of the 11 M terrorist attack. Representatives of the victims’ families, world leaders, Spanish political leaders and the Spanish royal family joined together to mourn the dead. A massive white sheet bearing a black ribbon (the sign of mourning which is still desplayed in shop, flat and car windows throughout Madrid) hung behind the altar, and the archbishop of Madrid led the mass. Giant television screens were erected in several popular locations in the city to carry the ceremony live and the Mass brought much of Madrid to a standstill.

Jose Luis Zapatero had meetings today with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President, Jacques Chirac, Polish President Leszek Miller, US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, German President Gerhard Schroeder. According to Cadena Ser, the Socialist leader used these meetings to explain his policy regarding the removal of Spanish troops from Iraq. He stressed that withdrawel will only go ahead if the United Nations is not in charge of the transition in Iraq by 30th June, and that this decision should not be interpreted as taking a soft line on terrorism.

Zapatero told world leaders that the fight against terrorism remains top priority for the Socialist Party.

Miguel Angel Moratinos, thought by many to be the probable Foreign Affairs Minister in the Socialist Government, appeared before the press after Zapatero’s meeting with Colin Powell and told reporters that the US Secretary of State had offered to negotiate with Zapatero the future role of the UN in Iraq. Meanwhile, according to Moratinos, Zapatero urged Tony Blair to use Britain’s role in the UN Security Council to try to negotiate within the next three months handing over control of the situation in Iraq to the United Nations.