19:57 GMT21 October 2020
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    Washington is pushing to accelerate talks on the use of a Spanish air base in order to secure a deal before December's general election that may see the ruling Conservative Party lose its majority, a retired senior Spanish Army officer told Sputnik.

    MADRID (Sputnik) — A permanent agreement would make it possible to increase the contingent of US marines at the Moron Air Base in the south of Spain from 850 to nearly 3,000 service personnel in the event of a crisis, according to Spanish media.

    "I doubt that they will be able to reach the deal on expansion before the end of the term of the current government of Conservatives… A new government could also hinder the approval, so there is an interest in accelerating negotiations during the remainder of the term," retired Brig. Gen. Jose Enrique de Ayala said.

    After the 2012 deadly attack on the US mission in Benghazi, the United States asked Spain to make the Moron base available for a rapid response to any emergency situation in Africa.

    Initially, Madrid allowed 550 US marines to be based at Moron. In 2014, Spain prolonged the mandate and agreed to increase the total number of US personnel to 850.

    In April, the US presence at the Spanish base was prolonged for another year, but, according to Ayala "these extensions cannon last forever."

    Ayala said that is highly likely that the future use of the Spanish base by the US military will be among the main topics discussed during talks between Spain's defense minister and the commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).


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