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Spain's PM-elect Vows to Fight Terror - 2004-03-15


Spain's Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says fighting terrorism will be his immediate priority, following his Socialist Party's victory in Sunday's national election.

The Socialists defeated the ruling conservative Popular Party 43 to 38 percent in balloting held just three days after terrorist bombings in Madrid killed 200 people.

Prime Minster-elect Zapatero began his victory speech by asking for a moment of silence for the victims of Thursday's attack. He vowed to bring about a tranquil change for the benefit of the people and promised to unify all Spanish political parties in the fight against terror.

The ruling Popular party had been ahead in pre-election opinion polls, but that changed following last week's terrorist attack. Some Spaniards blamed outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's support for the U.S. led war in Iraq for the blasts.

Mr. Zapatero has pledged to immediately withdraw Spain's 13-hundred troops from Iraq, unless the United Nations approves their presence.

Meanwhile, reports Sunday said one of three Moroccan suspects arrested in connection with Thursday's blasts had ties to an alleged al-Qaida leader in Spain.

The suspect, Jamal Zugam, was named as a follower of Imad Yarkas in an indictment last year of suspected al-Qaida members.

Earlier, authorities found a videotape near a Madrid mosque in which an unidentified man claimed al-Qaida is responsible for the train bombings.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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