JUST two years ago when Spain pulled its troops back from Iraq and new Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero signalled an end of the special relationship which had existed between President Bush and former PM Jose Maria Aznar I thought that it would take years for relations between the two countries to recover. But I was mistaken.
I would say that relations between the Spanish Defence Ministry and the Pentagon have never been closer. There is a clear example in Palma at the moment. The giant U.S. aircraft carrier, Theodore Rossevelt is being escorted by a Spanish frigate. The U.S. Navy doesn't often allow foreign warships to form part of the defence screen of its aircraft carriers, which are naturally key assets.
U.S. admirals in Palma, at the reception held aboard the carrier, were quick to point out the importance of their Spanish escort which is no ordinary vessel. It is probably one of the most advanced frigates in the world equipped with state of the art technology some of which has been supplied by the U.S. I think Prime Minister Zapatero has been rather clever. While Iraq was deeply unpopular and the decision to withdraw troops well received, Spain still has a major force in Afghanistan which operates closely with U.S. forces. Perhaps, we are seeing the dawn of a new era. Perhaps, one day Spanish naval units could form part of the U.S. sixth fleet. One thing for sure that having one of their major units escorting a major unit of the U.S. fleet has won over many people in Majorca and probably across Spain. This shows that the future is bright and that more U.S. navy visits could be on the horizon.
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