Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION APPLAUDS SPAIN FOR ITS LEADERSHIP IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM

EFE news wire

February 17, 2010 -

Madrid, 16 Feb (EFE) .- A delegation of congressmen and U.S. senators praised the "leadership" of Spain in the fight against terrorism today following talks in Madrid with Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.



"Spain is an important U.S. partner. We want to thank the Spanish people and its government for their leadership in the fight against terrorism," said the head of the delegation, Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin.



Cardin led a delegation composed of senators and congressmen of the of U.S. Congress’ Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), which visited Spain today after talks on Monday with Moroccan authorities.



In a press conference held at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, the senator also praised "the Spanish government's decision to send 500 extra troops to Afghanistan, which is a very important step in successfully combating Al Qaeda’s terrorist network in Afghanistan.”



Cardin, the chairman of the commission, also thanked the Spanish Executive for its decision to accept five prisoners from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo. While expressing that he is "very pleased with Spain’s leadership of the European Union (EU), the senator confessed that he is “very disappointed" with the decision of the European Parliament (EP) to block the banking transfer agreement with the U.S.



"We believe this is a step backwards (...) in curbing terrorism," said the chairman of the Helsinki Commission, arguing that "money can lead to information that can prove invaluable in catching terrorists," Cardin said that "Spain shares this concern,” since the decision of the EP forces the EU to renegotiate the controversial agreement to ensure greater privacy and data protection.



For its part, the Spanish Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that Rubalcaba and the delegation had met to analyze the cooperation between Spain and the U.S. in combating terrorism.



Both sides agreed on the need to continue working together in this area and addressed, among others, issues relating to air safety.



The congressmen also met with other members of the Spanish executive, such as the Secretary General of the Spanish Presidency, Bernardino Leon, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Angel Losada.



Established in 1976, the Helsinki Commission is an independent U.S. government agency that monitors and encourages compliance with the commitments of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).