McCain calls for end to "discrepancies with Spain"
US Republican presidential candidate is ready to put an end to the chill that has plagued relations with Spain for the last four years if he is elected.7 April 2008
PHOENIX - The US Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, is ready to put an end to the chill that has plagued relations with Spain for the last four years, ever since José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero pulled Spanish troops from Iraq shortly after being voted in as prime minister.
"This is the moment to leave behind discrepancies with Spain," said the 71-year-old senator in an exclusive interview on board an airplane taking him from Memphis, where he participated in the 40th anniversary commemoration of the assassination of Martin Luther King, back to his home in Phoenix.
"I like [Prime Minister Zapatero] to visit the US. I'm very interested in not just normalizing relations with Spain, but in achieving good, productive relations in order to address many issues and challenges that we must face together," he said.
In McCain's view, there is no sense in reopening debates such as Spain's troop withdrawal or Zapatero's comments on subjects such as foreign involvement in Iraq, or US domestic affairs.
"We need to understand that certain things happen during a campaign - things are said, decisions are made in specific political circumstances...and we also need to understand that there can be coincidences and discrepancies," said McCain.
"But I think that now is the time to leave these things behind and look ahead with the perspective that we have many more values and goals in common than differences that divide us."
If elected president next November, McCain promises to work with that perspective and said that he trusts the Spanish government's attitude will be reciprocal.
"I think it is in the US' benefit and in the benefit of the Spanish government and people to maintain the same level of strong bilateral relations that we have had for many years," said the presumptive Republican nominee.
This is the first time in the US presidential campaign that a candidate has referred to the cool top-level relations between Spain and the United States, whose leaders have not spoken to each other at any length in over four years.
Zapatero is the first prime minister in Spain's democratic history who has not made an official visit to the United States.
[El Pais / Antonio Cano / Expatica]