November 16, 2007
Spain sought to end an escalating dispute with Venezuela Thursday that started when its king told Venezuela's president to ''shut up'' during bad-tempered exchanges at a summit.
Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said ''less gestures and more action'' were needed to ease tensions, a day after Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez warned he was carefully watching the actions of Spanish companies in his country.
''Spain will remain serene, firm and will defend its interests without adding any more unnecessary gestures,'' Miguel Angel Moratinos told a breakfast meeting with politicians, diplomats and journalists.
The spat began at a summit in Chile on Saturday when Chávez accused former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar of backing a coup that briefly removed him from power in 2002 and repeatedly called Aznar ``fascist.''
Spain's current prime minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, asked Chávez to be more diplomatic and show respect for other leaders. As Chávez repeatedly tried to interrupt, King Juan Carlos leaned forward and said: ``Why don't you shut up?''
Chávez said Wednesday that he did not want to damage relations but was reflecting deeply on his country's relations with Spain.
``That means Spanish companies are going to start being more accountable, and I'm going to watch them to see what it is they are doing here -- all the Spanish companies that are here.''
He did not elaborate on what that might mean.
Moratinos ruled out recalling Spain's ambassador for consultations, as demanded by conservatives in Spain.
'I believe that recalling an ambassador for consultations is the last thing that must be done,' he said.
He said that a majority of Latin American countries that had attended the summit had expressed support for Spain.