Protesters march against NATO meeting in Spain

Several hundred protesters marched through the streets of the southwestern city of Seville on Sunday to protest a forthcoming NATO meeting to be held there, Interior Ministry officials said. The rally was organized by Foro Social de Sevilla, a left-of-center group associated to the United Left party. Demonstrators carrying anti-NATO banners opposing the meeting to take place on February 8-9 paraded through the city center. Gaspar Llamazares, leader of United Left, told journalists in Seville that his group felt Spanish troops had entered service in Afghanistan by stealth after the government withdrew forces from Iraq. "We left Iraq through the front door and then entered Afghanistan through the window," said Llamazares. Banners read "Bring back the troops, no NATO." The government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero withdrew troops from Iraq after coming to power in general elections in 2004 but has around 600 troops engaged in peacekeeping duties in western Afghanistan. Spain has also contributed soldiers to a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, as well as to the Congo and the Balkans. Spain's parliament limits the number of soldiers it can deploy outside the country at any one time to 3,000.