Obama keen to revisit Barcelona: Spain

6th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

US President Barack Obama expresses desire to revisit Spain, especially Barcelona, to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in first bilateral meeting.

MADRID – US President Barack Obama told Spain's prime minister he wants to visit the country again and is especially keen to return to Barcelona where he once went as a youth, the Spanish government said Monday.

Obama mentioned his desire to revisit Spain to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Sunday on the sidelines of the EU-US summit in Prague, the officials told AFP.

Both leaders invited each other to visit their countries although no dates for the visits have been set, they added.

The talks were the first bilateral meeting between the leaders of the United States and Spain in five years and Obama said he was confident that relations between the two countries would be strengthened.

"I am glad to call him (Zapatero) a friend and I welcome our opportunities to cooperate on a whole host of issues in the years to come," he said.

Relations between Madrid and Washington cooled when Zapatero recalled Spanish troops from Iraq immediately after his election victory in 2004.

Ties between Spain and the United States were further strained by Zapatero adopting what Washington perceives as a soft policy on Cuba and Madrid's aborted attempt to sell aircraft and patrol boats to Venezuela.

Obama's predecessor George W Bush avoided bilateral meetings with Zapatero.

The Spanish prime minister is scheduled to travel to New York in September to take part in the annual United Nations General Assembly and the next G20 meeting.

Obama meanwhile is expected to visit Spain during the first half of 2010 when Madrid holds the rotating presidency of the European Union to take part in the next EU-US summit.

In his best-selling autobiography "Dreams from My Father", Obama describes a meeting he had with an African immigrant in Barcelona while on a trip he made across Europe shortly after he finished his university studies.

AFP / Expatica

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