US-SPAIN RELATIONS

Expected meeting between Spanish PM and Joe Biden limited to brief encounter in hallways of NATO summit

Pedro Sánchez and the US president only enjoyed a short chat in Brussels on Monday, despite Spanish sources having spoken last week of a planned bilateral interview

Pedro Sánchez and Joe Biden meet at the NATO summit in Brussels today.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and United States President Joe Biden briefly spoke on Monday during the NATO summit that was being held today in Brussels. Television cameras caught the pair walking side by side after the group photo of the attending 30 world leaders was taken. It was a much briefer affair than had been expected, after last week Spanish government sources announced that Sánchez and Biden would hold a bilateral meeting.

Sources from the prime minister’s office stated on Monday, however, that this brief encounter was the meeting that had been planned and that there will not be a formal interview between the two.

“The Spanish prime minister and the US president had a brief conversation after the group photo,” said sources from La Moncloa, the seat of power. “As had been previously stated, the two wanted to greet each other, meet each other personally and have a first contact. That’s what their respective teams had agreed. Among other things, they had agreed that the greeting would be caught on camera as proof of the excellent relationship that exists between both countries.”

The short walk today marks the first contact between Sánchez and Biden, who had not met in person previously and had not spoken by phone since the latter arrived in the White House on January 20. While a meeting with Biden had been previously announced by Spain, it did not feature on the White House agenda. Meetings with the Turkish president and the leaders of the three Baltic states did, however, appear on Biden’s official schedule.

Earlier on Monday, Sánchez held a formal meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first such encounter since the United Kingdom formally left the European Union in January. At the meeting, according to a tweet later shared by Sánchez’s official Twitter account, they discussed “the need to further strengthen bilateral relations, enhancing areas such as security and defense, and to promote the agreement between Spain and the UK on Gibraltar,” the British Overseas Territory located in the south of the Iberian peninsula.

For Spain, today’s NATO summit is particularly important as it will mark the green light for Madrid to host the 2022 event. At this upcoming meeting, which will coincide with the 40th anniversary of Spain joining the organization, a new Strategic Concept will be approved and a new general secretary will also be chosen.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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