INTERNATIONAL

Joe Biden and Pedro Sánchez will hold a bilateral meeting at the upcoming NATO summit

The fact that the US President was yet to make a phone call to the Spanish Prime Minister since the former got to the White House had been interpreted as a sign of disdain toward Spain

A photo montage of Pedro Sánchez and Joe Biden, both pictured on Wednesday.
A photo montage of Pedro Sánchez and Joe Biden, both pictured on Wednesday.AP / AFP

United States President Joe Biden and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will hold a bilateral meeting in Brussels on Monday, on the margins of a NATO summit. It will be “a conversation,” according to Spanish government sources, and not just a protocol greeting.

The White House and La Moncloa, Spain’s seat of power, have been in contact over recent days in order to ensure that the encounter between the two leaders – who have never met – not be limited to just a greeting, and be instead a conversation with content. While the points to be discussed have not been finalized, they are likely to include the role of Spain in NATO and the trip that Sánchez is currently on in Central America, the same sources reported.

Spain has offered to host a NATO summit planned for 2022, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the country’s membership in the military alliance. If the offer is taken up, the 30 heads of state and government that make up the group will be in Spain next year.

Sources from the US embassy in Madrid stated that if Biden had not contacted Sánchez already, it was because ‘there was no problem that made it necessary to do so’

The fact that Biden is yet to make a phone call to Sánchez since he got to the White House, despite having contacted around 30 or so political leaders in other parts of the world, was being interpreted as a sign of disdain toward Spain. But sources from the US embassy in Madrid have stated that there is no “protocol” for calls that the new president makes after being sworn in and that if he had not contacted the Spanish PM by phone already, it was because “there was no problem that made it necessary to do so.”

Spanish diplomatic sources, for their part, have pointed to the fact that Biden is immersed in his domestic policies and has only spoken so far to two European Union leaders: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France. He is yet to contact Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, which forms part of the G-7 group of wealthy countries.

The fact that Biden has carved out time for Sánchez in his agenda during his first European tour – which includes the G-7 and NATO summits, another meeting with the EU and a final date with Russian President Vladimir Putin – puts paid to claims that he has a lack of interest in Spain, according to the same sources.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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