U.S. Marines and special anti-terrorist units could be on patrol in Palma docks as security around the U.S. Sixth Fleet is stepped up. Extra security around all US warships was ordered immediately after the U.S.S. Cole was attacked by terrorists, believed to be connected to Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, in Yemen last year. But since September 11 and the very real threat of further terrorist attacks on U.S. targets across the globe, it is believed that during U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to Spain over the weekend, the United States and Spain agreed to tighten security around potential U.S. targets in Spain with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique giving the U.S. carte blanche to take care of their own security operations in Spanish ports. Palma is one of the Sixth Fleet's most popular ports in the Mediterranean although the number of visits has fallen over recent years. Opposition in the Balearic government and Greenpeace Spain to nuclear-powered aircraft carriers entering Balearic waters has not helped relations with the Sixth Fleet. Last year Greenpeace, with the support of members of the Balearic government, mounted a huge protest againt a visit by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier U.S.S. Washington however, in accordance with the new U.S. security deal with Spain, such protests in the future will be quickly stamped out, either by U.S. elite security forces or the Spanish authorities. The U.S. is taking the threat of more suicide attacks against its navy seriously and all warships will be carrying their own security teams, including divers, which will take care of security while in foreign ports of call. U.S. forces have tightened security at its Rota naval base in southern Spain with a 20 kilometre sea and land exclusion zone around the base. The number of civilian employees at the base has also been reduced to the bare minimum.


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