Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on the issue of Catalonia at a joint press conference in the White House.
Asked by Spanish reporters about the conflict over the referendum scheduled for Sunday, and the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence, the US president said: “I would like to see Spain continue to be united.
I bet you if you had accurate numbers and accurate polling, you’d find that they love their country, they love Spain
Donald Trump on the Catalans
“I’ve been watching that unfold, but it’s actually been unfolding for centuries. And I think that nobody knows if they’re going to have a vote. I think the President [Rajoy] would say they’re not going to have a vote. But I think that the people would be very much opposed to that,” said Trump. “I can say only speaking for myself, I would like to see Spain continue to be united.”
There was a second question about Catalonia from foreign reporters at a news conference that focused on bilateral relations between Spain and the United States, the threat from North Korea, the crisis in Venezuela and the devastation caused by recent extreme weather conditions. No US journalist asked any questions about Catalonia during the session.
“I think the people of Catalonia have been talking about this for a long time. But I bet you if you had accurate numbers and accurate polling, you’d find that they love their country, they love Spain, and they wouldn’t leave. So I’m just for a united Spain,” said Trump after being asked if the central government in Madrid and the Catalan government should enter into a dialogue.
I want us to go into a new stage where the rule of law, dialogue, and common sense will prevail
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy
“I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain. I think it would be foolish not to. Because you’re talking about staying with a truly great, beautiful, and very historic country,” he added.
Speaking through an interpreter, Prime Minister Rajoy said that “the decision to unilaterally declare independence is not something – it’s not a decision I would make. It’s a decision which will have to be made, or not, by the Catalan government. I think it would be very wrong.”
After insisting that there can be no valid democratic referendum with guarantees because there are “no ballots, no people at the polling stations, no electoral committee,” Rajoy said that “what would make sense in a situation such as this is to go back to common sense and put an end to this whole story. The only thing it’s doing is generating division, tensions, and it’s not contributing in any way to the citizen situation. So I want this to be resolved as soon as possible. And I want us to go into a new stage where the rule of law, dialogue, and common sense will prevail.”
At this, the first official meeting between Rajoy and Trump at the White House, both leaders stressed their good relations in the fight against jihadist terrorism, and the positive outlook for trade and financial relations following the economic recovery.
The Catalan issue was barely touched upon at the meeting that both men held prior to the press conference. Spanish government sources said that Trump was not given any prepared answers, and that the US president spoke “on his own inspiration.”
English version by Susana Urra.