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Visiting Reagan May Find Spain in Chilly Mood
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: May 5, 1985
Start Page: 1
Section: 1; Foreign Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

The Nicaragua issue is an emotional one. Spain has made the transition from a dictatorship to a democracy only during the last decade, and, as a new democracy run by Socialists, it feels that it has a role to play, even if only as a model, in the Third World. In addition, after years of isolation under [Francisco Franco], Spain is trying to strengthen ties with the Latin American countries, most of which were once Spanish colonies.

To confuse matters further, [Reagan] arrives at a moment when Spain is struggling with the question of whether to remain in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Prime Minister [Felipe Gonzalez], who now supports remaining in NATO after campaigning against it, has promised to fulfill an election promise and hold a referendum on the question early next year. Many Spaniards opposed to Spanish membership identify NATO with the United States and are protesting the Reagan visit as a way of campaigning for a vote against NATO in the referendum.

Perhaps to assuage anti-American sentiment that contributes to opposition to NATO, Gonzalez has pledged to reduce the number of American troops on Spanish soil. Under a treaty, which the Spanish intend to renegotiate, the United States operates three air bases and one naval station in Spain. This pledge by Gonzalez has led to a series of testy public comments by both American and Spanish officials.

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