The US Ambassador to Spain, Mr George Argyros, said in Palma yesterday, that everyone was hoping for a solution “without the need for extreme measures” in the conflict in the Gulf. The Ambassador, on his first official visit to the island, was speaking shortly after being received by Balearic leader Francesc Antich, and before opening the new American Consular Agency in Palma, where he was greeted by demonstrators. He declined to comment on the institutional statement approved by the Balearic government, which rejects any act of violence against Iraq without UN consent and asking for the Balearic ports and airports not to be used in the case of conflict. He merely replied “I think all the free or nearly free countries in the world understand what is at stake.” He added that many nations understood the importance of countries joining forces to eliminate terrorism. With reference to the Spanish government's support of the US, Mr Argyros said that Spain understands the meaning of terrorism through the problem of ETA. He also spoke of the important common interests of the two countries and their close ties. He pointed out that there are 40 million Spanish speakers in the US and 50 per cent of voters in California will soon be Spanish speakers. When the Ambassador arrived at the new Consular Agency office in the Paseo Marítimo he was greeted by a group of about 20 demonstrators from the Committee for Democracy and Social Globalisation, waving placards with slogans such as “stop the war business” and chanting “we don't want blood in excange of oil” or “NATO no, no more bases.” The demonstrators tried to burn an American flag and deliver a manifesto. One man was taken away under police escort.

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