Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spanish Defence Minister returns from flying visit to the troops in Afghanistan
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By h.b. - Apr 20, 2008 - 9:18 AM


Spanish Defence Minister, Carme Chacón with the troops in Afghanistan on Saturday - Photo EFE

Carme Chacón made the trip despite being seven months pregnant and after only five days in the post.

Five days after taking up her position as Spain’s first female Minister of Defence, and despite being seven months pregnant, Carme Chacón travelled on Friday the more than 6,000 kms to Afghanistan to visit the Spanish troops.
With her on the trip were the Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Leire Pajín, and Chief of the Defence Staff, Félix Suárez.

The Spanish media were surprised by the trip, which they describe as a demonstration of the will and commitment to the post.

She left the Torrejón de Ardoz airbase near Madrid on Friday night at 9,30pm and after a stop over in Kuwait, spent six hours on Saturday visiting the troops at the Spanish base of Herat in Afghanistan. She slept on the return leg on Saturday night and was back on Madrid by just after 3am on Sunday morning.

Chacón told the troops that she wanted to see for herself the problems at the base on a mission which has not advanced significantly over recent years, where the brief for the Spanish troops is for reconstruction and humanitarian aid. However she had words of praise and admiration for the construction of a new local road and hospital, and told the troops that it was meeting the families of those who had lost love ones on the day of her investiture which had affected her the most. She said sent the troops ‘un abrazo’ from King Juan Carlos, and also from the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The Spanish Government recently refused a NATO request to send more troops to the zone.
Reports indicate that the Minister also intends to visit the Spanish bases in Kosovo and Lebanon in the immediate future, before the birth of her child.

Doctors usually advice pregnant women not to fly after the seventh month of pregnancy, although there is no set rule. Some airlines, such as American Airlines will allow flying as late as eight days before birth, if the mother signs a no-claims statement. A gynaecologist made the trip with the Minister just in case.

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