NATO Secretary General Rasmussen praises Spanish contributions to the alliance

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen praised Spain's continued commitment to the alliance on Thursday during a visit to Madrid.

Rasmussen thanked Spain for its broad support of NATO's goals while meeting with President Mariano Rajoy Brey, Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo and Defense Minister Pedro Morenés.

"Our security is interconnected," Rasmussen said. "NATO faces more than one crisis, or one challenge. We face an arc of crises from the East to the South."

Rasmussen also noted specific Spanish military contributions to NATO, particularly during the recent crisis in Ukraine.

"I appreciate very much that Spain has offered fighter aircraft and a number of ships to different maritime groups," Rasmussen said.

Other Spanish contributions to NATO missions that Fogh Rasmussen noted included Afghanistan, counter-piracy activities off the Horn of Africa and the co-hosting of the largest live exercise of 2015 with Italy and Portugal.

The secretary general also encouraged Spain to increase its defense spending once its economy improves.

"Because our security is the foundation for our prosperity," Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen also met with Spain's King Juan Carlos. The two discussed current and future security challenges, as well as preparations for the NATO Summit in September.