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Spain and US acknowledge their differences over recognition of Palestinian state

Foreign minister José Manuel Albares met in Washington with State Secretary Antony Blinken and said he was not there to request ‘acquiescence’

Antony Blinken y José Manuel Albares
Antony Blinken (r) and José Manuel Albares, on Friday at the State Department in Washington.Kaylee Greenlee Beal (REUTERS)
Miguel González

Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday illustrated their countries’ differences regarding the recognition of Palestinian statehood. While Albares announced the Spanish government’s intention to take that step in the coming days, Blinken reiterated that recognition must occur “at the end of the process,” as a result of a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, according to Spanish diplomatic sources. The same sources stressed that Blinken added this is a sovereign decision to be made by each country and expressed respect.

In statements to reporters, Albares insisted that the goal of his trip to Washington was not to “ask permission” from the U.S. Administration — as he has been accused of doing by Spain’s leftist political group Izquierda Unida (United Left) — nor to inform Blinken in advance about the decision that the Spanish executive will take. “It has not been discussed in these terms, nor does Blinken feel that this is a request for acquiescence,” said Albares, acknowledging that, while discussing the Middle East conflict, he explained Spain’s position on the matter, which is well known and includes the immediate recognition of the Palestinian State. Albares declined to confirm whether the date chosen by Spain and other European countries, such as Ireland, Malta and Slovenia to formalize diplomatic recognition is May 21, as reported. He insisted that “the important thing is the political decision, which has already been made.”

Although the Spanish foreign minister downplayed the differences between Washington and Madrid on the issue of the war in Gaza, these were evident this Friday at the General Assembly vote in favor of the Security Council’s reconsideration of Palestine’s full UN membership. Spain (along with 142 other countries) voted in favor besides co-sponsoring the initiative, and the United States voted against.

The Arab-Israeli conflict was the only point of friction in a meeting that took place in an atmosphere of “great cordiality” according to Spanish diplomatic sources, and lasted for one hour and 25 minutes, preceded by a brief talk between the two officials who discussed “confidential matters.”

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