Spanish opposition leaders will dine with Obama at Royal Palace

Anti-military groups planning protest outside Rota military base on Sunday, where US president will stop between Seville and Madrid

Felipe VI and Barack Obama in New York.
Felipe VI and Barack Obama in New York.CASA DEL REY

Spain’s three main opposition leaders have been asked to join King Felipe VI at a lunch he will host next Monday for US President Barack Obama.

The US leader is scheduled to arrive in Spain on July 9 on his way back from Poland, where he will attend a NATO summit that opens on Friday.

Despite good bilateral relations, this will be the first time that Obama has come to Spain on an official visit since he first took office in January 2009.

There are enough motives to oppose Obama coming here to impose his policies and interests

Carmen Calzado, Ecologists in Action

“The visit to Spain, an important NATO ally, will highlight robust security cooperation, a strong political and economic relationship, and longstanding people-to-people ties,” said the President’s Press Office in a June release.

Besides meeting with acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose Popular Party (PP) won the most votes at a recent repeat election in Spain, Obama will also speak with the leaders of the parties that came in second, third and fourth.

The American president had already stated, prior to the Spanish elections, that he was willing to speak with Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE), Pablo Iglesias of Podemos and Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos.

All three have confirmed that they will attend the lunch event. For Iglesias, of the anti-austerity group Podemos, this will be his first event at the Royal Palace. Around 100 guests will be there, including government officials and leaders from the world of business, politics and culture.

Seville, Rota, Madrid

Arriving in Spain just a week after his wife, Michelle Obama, was here to promote her Let Girls Learn program, the president will land in Seville on Saturday night.

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On Sunday, he and Felipe VI will visit the Andalusian capital together, and later Obama will head to the US military base of Rota.

Anti-military groups have scheduled a protest outside the Rota base for Sunday, to make it clear that the US president “is not welcome in this territory.” Organizers are asking the local population to support their demonstration. “There are enough motives to oppose Obama coming here to impose his policies and interests,” said Carmen Calzado, of the green group Ecologists in Action, in statements to news agency Europa Press.

The political situation in Spain, which has been under a caretaker government ever since the first inconclusive elections of December 20, had initially made officials fear that Obama might end his term in office without once coming on an official trip.

English version by Susana Urra.

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