Ex-PM says comments on Obama misinterpreted

12th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Jose Maria Aznar says he has not meant to say Obama’s election in November was "a historic exoticism and predictable economic disaster".

MONTEVIDEO – Spain's ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar toned down his recent remarks on US president-elect Barack Obama, saying in a newspaper interview Sunday that he embodies the "American dream".

The former conservative leader raised eyebrows when he told the 7 January Spanish edition of Vanity Fair magazine that Obama's election on 4 November 4 was "a historic exoticism and predictable economic disaster".

During a visit to Uruguay's Punta del Este beach resort, Aznar told the El Pais newspaper that his words had been misinterpreted to some extent.

"What I said was that (Obama's) was a historic victory ... that an African-American should have won, it is a historic change for the United States," he told El Pais.

"I think Obama is a major proof that the American dream is still alive," said Aznar, who ruled Spain from 1996-2004 and was a close ally of US President George W. Bush during the invasion of Iraq.

As to the future of the ailing US economy under Obama, who takes office on 20 January, Aznar said he hoped Obama would not stray from the free-market policies of his predecessor, Bush.

"Doing otherwise it would be a deeply negative mistake."

He praised Obama for surrounding himself with a "top notch" economic team and cautioned that "the time of decision-making will not be easy ... I wish him lots of luck because US leadership is very important for the world in general."

[AFP / Expatica]

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