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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 09:58 GMT
Spain PM firm on Iraq withdrawal
Spanish troops in Iraq
Mr Zapatero said he would pull troops out of Iraq without UN action
Spain's prime minister-elect says his position on withdrawing troops from Iraq is unchanged despite an appeal from US President George Bush.

Mr Bush urged America's allies to stick together in the "war on terrorism", saying al-Qaeda wanted to defeat "freedom and democracy" in Iraq.

But Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says he will pull out Spain's 1,300 troops unless the UN intervenes in Iraq.

"My position is the same," he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

We will work with our friends to bring justice to the terrorists
President Bush

"The occupation is a fiasco. There have been almost more deaths after the war than during the war.

"The occupying forces have not allowed the United Nations to take control of the situation."

Suspects

Spanish police are reported to have identified six Moroccan men they believe were behind the bomb attacks in Madrid last week that killed 201 people and injured more than 1,500.

President Bush
The Spanish election has dented Mr Bush's "coalition of the willing"

The El Pais newspaper quoted security sources as saying that five were still at large but one - Jamal Zougam - was in custody.

Mr Zougam was arrested on Saturday with two other Moroccans and two Indians.

On Tuesday evening several thousand people, including the queen of Spain, gathered in Madrid's largest cathedral for a service to remember those killed in the attacks.

European leaders are calling for a co-ordinated policy to prevent similar attacks in the future, including improved co-operation between intelligence services.

Police in London have warned that a major attack there is inevitable, but are urging people to go about their lives normally.

'Side-by-side with Iraqi people'

Mr Bush said the goal of the "cold-blooded killers" who carried out attacks like the Madrid bombings was "to try to get the world to cower... to try to shake our will".

Second train attacked in Madrid
The bomb attacks have prompted concern throughout Europe

He added: "It is essential that the free world remain strong and resolute and determined."

He was speaking after a meeting in Washington with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende - whose country has itself deployed troops in Iraq, against significant public opposition.

The Netherlands and Denmark have both said they will keep their troops in Iraq, despite the incoming Spanish prime minister's announcement.

"It is essential that we remain side-by-side with the Iraqi people," said Mr Bush.

"Al-Qaeda understands the stakes. Al-Qaeda wants us out of Iraq because al-Qaeda wants to use Iraq as an example of defeating freedom and democracy."

'Terrible message'

Mr Bush did not refer to elections in Spain on Sunday, which saw a surprise victory for the socialists amid public anger at the government's handling of Thursday's bombs and its participation in the Iraq invasion.

However, the BBC's Washington correspondent Rob Watson says there is no doubt the Bush administration has been stung by the results.

US administration officials say President Bush has already called several world leaders to insist they remain on the offensive in the war against terrorism.

And White House spokesman Scott McClellan cautioned Spaniards and others against sending a "terrible message" by letting terrorists influence their elections and policies.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jim Fish
"Reports said police in Madrid suspect that up to 20 Moroccans may have been involved"



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