MADRID — Spain notified the United States today that it will not automatically renew a 34-year-old defense pact, leaving open the possible American military withdrawal from Spain unless a new agreement is reached, the Foreign Ministry said.
Shortly after a written notification was delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez said he hopes a new accord will be reached within the next six months.
"It is reasonable to think that an agreement can be reached with the United States before the treaty expires (in May)," he said.
In talks last week, Madrid repeated its demand for the withdrawal of 72 F-16 fighter-bombers as a condition for drawing up a new pact.
Defense Department spokesman Fred Hoffman said the six-month notification had been expected but still is considered important. In the previous two years of negotiations, Spain has rejected every compromise proposed by the United States, Hoffman said.
Last week, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said the notice would not mean Spanish officials want American forces out of Spain, "only that they want a new agreement."
Hoffman also said American officials believe Spain wants an agreement free of any taint of the former dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco.
The defense treaty, first signed in 1953, allows the United States to station 12,500 military personnel in Spain and use three air bases, a naval base and nine communications facilities.
The notification opens up a six-month period for drawing up a new pact, but if no agreement is reached, the United States would have to withdraw its military presence by May, 1989.