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Monday, September 22, 2008


In marked contrast with the UK, where both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have set the agenda on foreign affairs, Spain’s premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has taken a back seat. Spain’s man on the international stage is Miguel Ángel Moratinos although I doubt whether John McCain has heard of him either.

This is a change here from the days of José María Aznar who was a frequent visitor to George Bush. Some say that Zapatero’s lack of international engagement is due to his poor grasp of other languages but it may just be that in Moratinos he has an effective advocate.


Moratinos believes that US relations with the wider world will improve once George Bush leaves the White House. He says this will be true whether George McCain or Barack Obama wins the presidency in November.

Speaking in New York where he is attending the General Assembly debates in the United Nations Moratinos was commenting directly on whether John McCain would welcome Zapatero to the White House if he becomes president. This is in response to a radio interview last week in which it appeared that McCain believed the Spanish premier was actually the leader of a Latin American country of dubious standing in the USA.

Moratinos would not be drawn on the US presidential race. He did say that: “Spain is a fundamental country to the USA with reference to the exchange in commerce, investment, the fight against terrorism, military co-operation, Afghanistan, the Middle East and of influence in Latin America.”

The head of Spain’s diplomatic service confirmed that relations between Spain and the USA were on a friendly basis of “co-operation and loyalty, but balanced without submission, defending the interests of Spain in the USA.”

Moratinos added: “The Spanish government has defended with dignity its interests in the USA and in the rest of the world. There has been no meeting at the highest level because George Bush has not wanted one.” Indeed Bush has never met with Zapatero during his term of office.

Spain, along with the rest of the world, looks forward to a new beginning with the USA once Bush leaves the White House. However the general feeling seems to be, whilst relations will improve, Obama will herald a brighter future than McCain.

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