Spain’s prime minister has told President Donald Trump that he would be the ideal point of contact for the United States in Europe and Latin America, as well as providing a bridge between the US and North Africa, as well as the Middle East. EURACTIV Spain reports.
According to Madrid and Washington, Mariano Rajoy held a 15-minute telephone conversation with Trump on Tuesday night (7 to 8 February). This is the first time the two leaders have spoken since the billionaire moved into the White House on 20 January.
The two leaders exchanged views on bilateral relations, security and the economy.
Rajoy later tweeted that the conversation had been “cordial” and explained that it had helped “strengthen relations to the benefit of our peoples”. “We are allied countries,” he added.
Cordial conversación con @POTUS para seguir fortaleciendo las relaciones en beneficio de nuestros pueblos. Somos países aliados. MR
— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) February 7, 2017
According to Madrid, Rajoy demonstrated his willingness to develop good relations with the new US administration, while Trump showed an interest in the Spanish economy.
In this context, Rajoy said that “with a stable government and economic growth of more than 3%, [Spain] is in the best position to serve as the United States’ point of contact in Europe, in Latin America, as well as in North Africa and the Middle East”.
The government did not mention if any specific subjects were discussed, such as Trump’s intention to build a wall along the Mexican border.
On the subject of the EU, Rajoy told Trump he believed the bloc would pull closer together as the UK’s exit negotiations get under way, and that Spain would work to deepen integration.
The two leaders also said they looked forward to the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels in May as a chance to meet and shake hands for the first time.
Rajoy also stressed the importance of military cooperation between the two countries, highlighting that Spanish soldiers are on the ground in Iraq to train the Iraqi army to be more effective in its fight against IS.
Both leaders also agreed that trade relations between Spain and the US were “balanced and profitable”. Rajoy was keen to point out that Spanish investment in the United States had risen to €58 billion in recent years, directly creating some 80,000 jobs across the Atlantic.
While this was the first conversation between the two leaders since Trump’s inauguration, they first spoke on 12 December last year. On this occasion, Trump called to thank Rajoy for his message congratulating him for his victory.
Not all European leaders are keen to build bridges with the new US administration.
Lithuanian President on May & Trump: "I don't think there is a necessity for a bridge.. we communicate with the Americans on Twitter"
— Piers Scholfield (@inglesi) February 3, 2017