Royal visit could thaw relations with US

11th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 November 2004, MADRID-The Spanish government said it welcomed the invitation of the Spanish King and Queen to meet US President George W Bush to thaw the frosty relations between the two countries.

11 November 2004

MADRID-The Spanish government said it welcomed the invitation of the Spanish King and Queen to meet US President George W Bush to thaw the frosty relations between the two countries.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia have been invited to dine with Bush on 24 November.

Spanish Foreign Secretary Miguel Angel Moratinos said the invitation was "highly valued" after a series of diplomatic clashes between the countries in recent weeks.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was still waiting to receive a return call from Bush, after the Spanish premier telephoned to offer congratulations on his re-election.

The US president's spokesman, Scott McClellan, said "scheduling problems" had prevented Bush from returning Zapatero's calls.

In response to a question as to whether Zapatero had been trying to reach Bush and the president declined to take the call, McClellan replied: "I think that may be the case, that he has tried to reach out. Calls are scheduled at times that are mutually convenient. Some calls are able to be scheduled quicker than others."

Since his re-election, Bush has spoken with several heads of state and government, including French President Jacques Chrirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

In addition, Bush is set to meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his closest ally in the Iraq war, on Thursday .

On Tuesday, Bush met privately at the White House with former Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar, a conservative who was among the president's closest allies in the war in Iraq.

Zapatero said Monday that he would work to build a positive relationship with the United States and with the re-elected Bush.

Zapatero, a Socialist, spoke of relations with Washington at a joint press conference with a visiting Schroeder.

The head of the Spanish government, who earned the Bush administration's ire when he pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq immediately after taking office in April, insisted that both Spain and the European Union are allies of the United States.

Though Madrid and Washington share common positions on many points, he said, differences, like those over Iraq, must be respected.

"The government is working and will continue to work toward a positive relationship with the United States, with George W Bush and with his administration," said Zapatero.

He added he was still awaiting a telephone conversation with the re-elected president to congratulate him on his electoral victory.

The Iraq withdrawal - a move supported by the vast majority of Spaniards that Zapatero had vowed to undertake long before he was elected in March - prompted a series of misunderstandings and mixed messages between Spanish and U.S. authorities.

Tension heightened when the United States stayed away from the Spanish National Day parade in Madrid on 12 October after having participated for the past two years during the government of conservative Jose Maria Aznar.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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