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U.S., Spain agree to permanently keep American force at Spanish military base

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - MARCH 5:  U.S soldiers rest at their base on March 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. A group of U.S soldiers attended the reopening of the al-Fadael elementary school today in the Al-Hurriya district north of Baghdad after it was repaired from damages suffered during the war. U.S President Barack Obama announced last week plans to leave around 35,000 to 50,000 U.S. military forces in Iraq after pulling the majority of them out by August 2010.  (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - MARCH 5: U.S soldiers rest at their base on March 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. A group of U.S soldiers attended the reopening of the al-Fadael elementary school today in the Al-Hurriya district north of Baghdad after it was repaired from damages suffered during the war. U.S President Barack Obama announced last week plans to leave around 35,000 to 50,000 U.S. military forces in Iraq after pulling the majority of them out by August 2010. (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)  (2009 Getty Images)

Spanish and U.S. officials have signed an agreement to grant the U.S. military permanent presence at an air base in southwestern Spain, creating a center for a rapid reaction force to deal with crises in Africa and elsewhere.

Authorities signed the accord Wednesday in Washington after approval was delayed when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg ahead of a signing ceremony scheduled for June 1 in Madrid.

The deal approved allows for the U.S. to station up to 3,000 troops at the Moron air base, up from a current 850.

The number of aircraft deployed can be increased from 14 to 40.

Under a 1988 bilateral agreement, accords permitting U.S. presence at the base have been renewed annually. The new agreement needs final approval by Spain's Parliament.

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