Spain approves missile-defence pact with US



Madrid: The Spanish government authorized Friday the signing of a pact with the US that will allow elements of the NATO anti-missile shield to be deployed at a naval base in southern Spain.

The authorization was approved at the Council of Ministers' weekly meeting and comes a year after Spain announced it would take part in the project.

It was then-prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who offered Spain's participation during a meeting in Brussels in October 2011.

As a result, Spain had to adjust its existing defense agreement with the US, which is why the government Friday approved the signing of an amendment to the bilateral pact.

The pact is scheduled to be signed next week in Brussels by Spanish Defence Minister Pedro Morenes and US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, since at that time both will be attending a NATO meeting in the Belgian capital.

The accord will allow the deployment of four US Navy ships at the Rota naval base as part of the NATO anti-missile shield, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.

The amended pact will open the way for some 1,100 U.S. military personnel and the four ships to be stationed at Rota beginning in 2013.

IANS