US, Spain sign modification of defence pact for use of air base

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Washington, June 18 (IANS/EFE) Spain and the US signed an amended version of the 1988 bilateral defence partnership here to allow American troops permanent use of the Moron air base near the Spanish city of Seville.

The agreement signed by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ignacio YbaƱez, and US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Wednesday will allow the US military to deploy up to 2,200 soldiers and 500 civilians at the base to provide a rapid reaction force to respond to crises in Africa and the Middle East.

The US has been using the air base as a forward staging area for such efforts since early 2013.

The amended version of the pact was scheduled to be signed in late May in Madrid by US Secretary of State John Kerry, but the biking accident he suffered in Switzerland forced him to postpone his visit and the signing and ultimately send Blinken in his stead.