Crown Prince Felipe (2nd r.) with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (2nd l.) whom he received Tuesday at the Zarzuela Palace during the American's official visit to Spain, in the presence of U.S. Ambassador to Spain Alan Solomont (r.) and Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes (l.). EFE
Madrid, Jan 15 (EFE).- Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed here Tuesday bilateral cooperation on defense, the war on terrorism in Mali and the start of Spanish troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.
Madrid is one of several stops on Panetta's European junket before stepping down from his post.
The prince received Panetta at Zarzuela Palace where the discussion also included Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes and U.S. Ambassador to Spain Alan Solomont.
After speaking with the prince, Panetta met with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
In a statement to reporters traveling with him on his European tour, the defense secretary said that on this visit to Spain he seeks to promote U.S. military cooperation with a country he considers a "vital ally" and an "important leader" in NATO, and to discuss such issues as collaboration on cybersecurity and the installation of an anti-missile system at Rota naval base in southern Spain.
Panetta also planned talks with Spanish authorities about cooperation in the fight against al Qaeda-linked groups in countries like Mali and the commitment made in Afghanistan, where Spanish troops have suffered around 100 casualties.