Spain PM postpones LatAm trip to face economic woes

1st December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has put off a planned trip to Latin America to deal with his country economic woes, Madrid's ambassador in Bolivia Ramon Santos said Wednesday.

"The leader of the Spanish government regretfully is compelled to cancel his trip to the Iberian-American summit that was to take place next Friday in the city of Mar del Plata (Argentina) and the subsequent official visit to Bolivia, which will have to be postponed," Santos said.

The ambassador said Zapatero now had to attend a meeting of his ministers and was "therefore obliged to cancel his attendance" at the summit, which was to have taken place Friday and Saturday in Argentina.

With respect to the visit to La Paz, the ambassador said: "We trust that a new date can be set in the coming days."

Zapatero was to have met with Bolivian President Evo Morales to sign a series of bilateral economic cooperation agreements. He had also planned to deliver a speech to the Bolivian Congress.

Zapatero announced new measures on Wednesday to cut costs and revive the troubled economy, including the end of a jobless subsidy, as he battles to ease market fears of an Irish-style bailout.

His Socialist government has slashed spending to rein in a public deficit that hit 11.1 percent of GDP last year, the third highest in the eurozone after Greece and Ireland.

Zapatero's latest proposals include selling off 30 percent of the state lottery and offloading a bigger stake in the main airport operator in addition to scrapping a 420-euro (548-dollar) monthly subsidy to unemployed workers who have lost their rights to benefits.

© 2010 AFP

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