Madrid – Spain will continue participating in the NATO-led military mission in Libya as long as Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime is still a "threat" to his country's people, Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez told lawmakers here Monday.
She and Defense Minister Carme Chacon appeared before the lower house of the Spanish Parliament to request the indefinite extension of legislative authorization to take part in the military operation.
Chacon estimated the cost of Spain's military effort in the Libyan campaign to date to be 43 million euros ($61.5 million), and she said that the open-ended extension would result in monthly expenditures of about 14.4 million euros ($20.6 million).
The defense minister emphasized that Madrid's participation is of "great relevance" for the NATO mission and added that Spain will continue to participate in the operation until a ceasefire is achieved, pro-Gadhafi forces withdraw and the population is guaranteed access to humanitarian aid.
Spain has provided four F-18 fighters, two refueling planes, a surveillance aircraft, a frigate and a submarine for the effort to enforce a no-fly zone and arms embargo in Libya.
Spanish units do not take part in offensive operations in Libya.
"This mission will continue as long as the Libyans continue suffering the barbarism of the Gadhafi regime. We will be there for the entire time that it's necessary," Jimenez said.
Even so, she said that the solution to the conflict that broke out in late February "must come from inside Libya" and "must not be only military, but fundamentally political."
Jimenez called for national reconciliation and an "inclusive" democratic solution that ensures Libya's unity and territorial integrity.
Spain's top diplomat said that military, diplomatic and economic pressure had resulted in the Tripoli regime each day becoming "more isolated and weakened" both internally and externally.
Jimenez expressed her support for the rebels' National Transitional Council, which she called the "legitimate representative of the Libyan people."
The minister emphasized the "conciliatory will" of the TNC and its wish to bring different people into it to increase its representation.
Jimenez recalled that the Spanish government had frozen relations with the Gadhafi regime, expelled the Libyan ambassador assigned to Madrid and invited the rebels to visit Spain.
Regarding Spanish humanitarian aid provided to Libya, the minister said that almost 6 million euros ($8.6 million) worth of aid had been contributed and five shipments of health and first aid materials had been made.