EFEHavana

Spanish former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero refused to enter into the controversy over the criticism his visit to Cuba has received from the current Spanish government and said he was ready to report fully on his trip upon his return to Madrid.

At a press conference in Havana, where on Wednesday he met with Cuban President Raul Castro, Zapatero said that, as a former premier, he had always tried to "act in the interest of Spain."

The trip to the communist island by Zapatero and former Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, both Socialists, has annoyed the conservative Spanish government and has been called by the current foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, an act of "extraordinary disloyalty."

The Madrid government had been told the pair would make a private visit to Havana, but it was not aware they would meet with Castro.

Garcia-Margallo on Thursday spoke by telephone with Moratinos, the latter told Efe in Havana.

"It's a rule I always practice. I'm not going to enter into any controversy with Mr. Margallo and even less so here, outside of Spain. I didn't do that when I was prime minister and I'm not going to do it now," said Zapatero, who governed from 2004-2011.

"Spain has to give a picture of unity in the interests that pertain to the state, which I faithfully fulfill," said Zapatero, who emphasized his willingness to provide all the information that might be required about his trip to Cuba when he returns home.

Zapatero said that he discussed with Raul Castro the process of normalizing relations that the island has begun with the United States.

The former prime minister also mentioned the third round of dialogue that Cuba and the European Union will undertake next week to achieve a political and cooperation agreement and put an end to the bloc's so-called "common position" which conditions dialogue with the island to changes in Havana's stance on human rights and freedoms.

Zapatero said he wanted the third round of talks to result in an accord, adding that the negotiations between Cuba and the United States to normalize bilateral relations "is going to help" on that score.

"When we were in the government we tried to change the so-called common position. It seems to me appropriate and good for the EU, for Cuba and for the EU's relationship with Latin America for that agreement to come about and I hope that the negotiations move forward," he said.