Spain willing to accepting Gitmo detainees

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 06, 2009 02:59 hrs

Rome: Spain has expressed its willingness to consider accepting detainees of the controversial US military camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, on a case-by-case basis within the context of a European Union (EU) consensus on the issue, the EFE news agency reported on Friday.

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Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who is Rome for meeting organised by Italy on reforming the UN Security Council, said on Thursday that his country had a "good willingness to help and cooperate" with new US President Barack Obama.

The Spanish minister, however, said there were some principles that had to be adhered to.

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"First, we have to have a European position based on consensus. Second, we have to wait for a decision from the US administration itself, both the administration and the US courts," Moratinos said.

"Third, starting from these two premises, I expect a good willingness from (Spain) to help and cooperate with this US administration and, fourth, it will be reviewed case by case," he said.

In any case, according to Moratinos, Spain will accept a "limited number" of prisoners.

"Let's not say no (from the start) to cooperating, because we don't want to start a new problem either," the Spanish minister said.

Moratinos denied that his ministry had started any contacts with the US to take in prisoners, as some Spanish media outlets reported.

Relations between the US and Spain were badly frayed after Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero pulled his country's 1,300 troops out of Iraq in May 2004.

Zapatero's predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, was former US President George W Bush's staunchest supporter in continental Europe.

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