Spain will accept Guantanamo prisoners

Moratinos promises to take in Guantánamo prisoners in meeting with Hillary Clinton

Yesterday Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, promised that Spain would take in some of the prisoners still held in the US military prison in Guantánamo (Cuba) following his meeting with the new US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,

The meeting with Hillary Clinton took place in Washington and amongst other important issues designing a new relationship between both the US and Spain was on the agenda.

Moratinos speaking outside the state department in Washington said that the US had requested help in resolving the ‘drama and tragedy’ that Guantánamo represented. He said that Spain had agreed to collaborate in taking in some of the prisoners ‘as long as the legal conditions were acceptable’.

Although the announcement that the US military prison in Guantánamo was to be closed was received favourably around the world it also raised the issue of what to do with the remaining 250 prisoners that are still held there.

Once the US administration had made it clear that it would not take in all the prisoners from Guantánamo its Western allies were not at all surprised when they received requests for help.

In Spain’s case the official request was made during yesterday’s meeting with Hillary Clinton. Apart from the request it is not known how many or when the prisoners will be sent to Spain. According to the British organisation Reprieve there are about four or six prisoners from Tunisia and Algeria held in Guantánamo who wish to be taken in by Spain.

Moratinos also made it clear that yesterday’s meeting had opened a new stage in relations between Spain and the US following the cool relationship between the two countries during the presidency of George Bush who only received Zapatero once in the White House and only then because Zapatero was attending the G-20 summit in November last year.

This is why the big question that is now being asked is when Obama will meet with Zapatero. However, Moratinos stressed that he was not in the US to set a date for visits although he did say that he believed that Zapatero would be received warmly by the White House.

Yesterday’s meeting was the first meeting with a Spanish minister since Obama took over the presidency of the US on 20th January this year. Moratinos is the fifth European Foreign Affairs minister to meet with the new US Secretary of State after meetings with Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Yesterdays meeting between Moratinos and Clinton lasted 40 minutes and opened a new stage in relations between Spain and the US which is designed on the tacit agreement of quid pro quo (something in exchange for something).

Although Moratinos said that concrete subjects were not discussed he hopes that the US will establish a new strategy towards Latin America especially Cuba and collaborate with Spain in Northern Africa. Spain also promised to increase its collaboration in Afghanistan although when and how was not specified.

Source: El Pais