Sánchez and Biden meet at the White House 05/12/2023
Sánchez and Biden meet at the White House 05/12/2023CHRIS KLEPONIS – POOL VIA CNP / ZUMA PRESS (CHRIS KLEPONIS – POOL VIA CNP / )

Joe Biden has recognized the international “leadership” of Pedro Sánchez on issues such as the war in Ukraine and his “tremendous work” with immigration. Sitting next to the Spaniard in the oval office, the heart of US power, the Democratic president has praised his “ally and friend” Sánchez and has thanked him for decisions such as permission to expand the destroyers at the base by two. of Rota. Biden has only spoken for a minute and has not answered questions, but in that time he has shown a clear political harmony with Sánchez. The meeting lasted 45 minutes, and La Moncloa assures that it has been “very political” and that “a lot of complicity” has been noticed between the two presidents and the teams, which joined at the end.

The appointment has been a kind of starting signal for the electoral campaign of Sánchez, who immediately travels to Spain to participate this Saturday in a rally in Seville. La Moncloa wants to get the most out of one of the facets that the president has worked on the most, his international profile, and this meeting was the ideal framework to achieve it, although from Sánchez’s responses in a brief subsequent appearance, alone, it can be deduced that there has been no significant progress on the most problematic issues, such as the removal of toxic waste from Palomares or the elimination of tariffs in the US on black olives.

Neither Biden nor Sánchez have given details about the immigration agreement that the two countries announced a few weeks ago, and that will allow some of the Central American immigrants who want to go to the US to be diverted to Spain through legal procedures, although it is not clear how many nor when, because the initiative is still in its embryonic phase. The Spaniard has indicated that there are no figures yet because it will depend on the needs of the Spanish labor market, but the Inclusion and Interior ministries are already working on it.

In any case, Sánchez has clarified that it will not be a significant percentage of those arriving in the US. Every day 11,000 are detained at the borders, but the Spanish president has lowered expectations by pointing out that “the dimensions of the United States are not those of Spain ”. For him, what is relevant is that the two countries are betting on an “innovative” solution to redirect illegal immigration to legal channels.

The US president has shown that he is in tune with Spain on this matter. “We both face the challenge of immigration and you are doing a tremendous job in this regard,” he said as he looked at him. According to the subsequent official note from the White House, Biden “has thanked Spain for its recent commitment to promoting safe, humanitarian regular immigration for Latin American citizens, in clear reference to the agreement. “We will work with the Spanish presidency” of the European Union, said Biden, who regretted not having spent more time in Spain after his visit last year for the NATO summit: “I would like to have spent more time in Madrid, a week at least”, he said smiling.

The Spaniard, who has extended much more than the American in his initial speech before the meeting, did want to detail the objectives of his visit much more and has made an express recognition of Biden’s work in defense of democracy in the US USA and all over the world. “We share common values ​​and our bilateral relations are excellent, we are allies, friends”, said Sánchez. “I think the world needs a president committed to just fights like you are,” he has told Biden.

Sánchez has stressed that Biden is a “reference in the defense of democracy.” “No one would have imagined that democracy would be endangered here in the US,” Sánchez told the US leader, thus recalling the assault on the Capitol two and a half years ago. “His leadership and his commitment to democracy are an example,” Sánchez insisted.

Later, in his appearance before the press, the Spaniard has taken the matter to European and national politics, thinking of the ultra-right and especially Vox, although without citing them: “At a time when the world and many countries do not Only in the American continent, but also in Europe, we are suffering from a questioning of democracies and democratic principles, it is important to underline the commitment of President Biden and the example that inspires many other rulers in the rest of the world”.

Biden and Sánchez have clearly shown a lot of harmony in immigration and in the defense of Ukraine. “Make no mistake, there is an aggressor and a victim, and the aggressor is President Putin,” said the Spaniard. “You are fighting for a just cause and you can count on Spain in that effort”, Sánchez concluded. “I’m counting on it,” Biden replied visibly satisfied.

Biden had welcomed Sánchez on social networks in the morning: “Today I am proud to welcome our close partner and ally president to the White House @sanchezcastejon from Spain. I look forward to deepening the historic ties between our nations.” has tweeted through his official account.

“We have talked at length about the situation in Ukraine,” Sánchez later explained. “We have underlined the transatlantic unity and the unity of all the allies that belong to NATO in our support for Ukraine, in its defense of freedom, for its national sovereignty and respect for territorial integrity. We have also recalled that in this war there is an aggressor and there is a victim, and that here the aggressor is Putin and that logically nobody wanted the war except one person, in this case President Putin, and that, consequently, of course, all we want a just and lasting peace.”

The Spanish president, who has recently been with the Chinese Xi, the Brazilian Da Silva and now with Biden, does not seem to see peace in Ukraine close, although he insists on using that word in all his speeches, but to make it clear that Spain defends the Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky’s plan. “In order for it to be fair and lasting, peace must be aligned with respect for international law and also with the principles established by the Charter of the United Nations”, Sánchez insisted.

In this global chapter they have also talked about the digital revolution, artificial intelligence, digital rights and the energy transformation linked to climate change. “I think that the two governments are very aligned in everything that has to do with climate objectives, with the green transition, with the unequivocal and resounding commitment to renewable energy,” Sánchez later said.

A second block of the meeting has addressed the relations between the United States and the European Union, which Spain will chair in the second semester. Sánchez has transferred to Biden the interest that Spain has in holding a summit between the European Union and CELAC, which has not been held since 2015 in Brussels, to strengthen European strategic ties with the Latin American community.

The third block has been devoted to the bilateral agenda. “What we have done has been to talk about the important agreements that we have signed, that of the destroyers in Rota. A very important agreement is that Spain is going to join the Artemis project (which promotes collaboration between countries with the aim of returning to the moon and preparing the future trip to Mars). We have also strengthened the agreement between NASA and the new Spanish Space Agency, which is located in Seville (a collaboration that has been carried out since 1964 through the facilities in Robledo de Chavela). And we have talked about Palomares, other initiatives related to gender equality, the rights of LGTBI people and also one of the disputes that we are dragging from the Trump Administration and that of the black olive, which is an element of friction in relationships that I would describe as extraordinary”, Sánchez summarized.

The Spanish president has explained that he has not achieved concrete commitments to eliminate the 35% tariff on black olives, but he has found “receptivity” on the part of the Biden administration. Regarding Palomares, there is also no clear date for the removal of the waste to take it to the Nevada desert, as agreed since 2015, but Sánchez sees the glass half full: “Clearly, there has been progress and it is that we have agreed to show our will to solve this problem and we have transferred the technical teams to meet as soon as possible to be able to once and for all extract these contaminated lands and get them out of Spain”. The official note from the White House states that the two presidents “have commissioned their teams to continue negotiations for an agreement on cleanup efforts at the site of the Palomares accident in 1966.”

Sánchez arrived in Washington this Thursday after the extraordinary Council of Ministers on the drought to present Nancy Pelosi, historic Democratic leader and former president of the House of Representatives, with the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel la Católica, which was granted by the Spanish Government . In an act closed to the press at the Spanish Embassy, ​​Sánchez stressed that Pelosi “has broken down many glass ceilings and exceeded many limits with determination and firmness” as she was the first woman to preside over the House of Representatives. The Spanish president also highlighted Pelosi’s work to strengthen relations between the United States and Spain and defended that this transatlantic link is now stronger than ever.

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