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Powell meets Spain's Socialist leader

March 25, 2004 at 6:19 AM   |   Comments

MADRID, March 25 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to persuade new Spainish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero not to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

Spanish sources said Powell met Zapatero for 10 minutes Wednesday following the memorial service for the victims of May 11 terrorist bombings in Madrid. He told Zapatero the Bush Administration was considering backing a new U.N. resolution defining the world body's role in Iraq once the United States hands over power to an Iraqi government on June 30.

Zapatero made an election promise to withdraw Spain's contingent of 1,300 troops from Iraq unless they become part of a U.N. peacekeeping force. But the Socialist prime minister who was elected last week, defeating conservative leader Jose Maria Aznar, is under pressure from Washington and other members of the U.S.-led coalition not to go ahead with the pullout.

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