Albares supports the US in its harsh threats to Russia over Ukraine
the minister of foreign of Spain held a series of high-profile meetings in Washington on Tuesday to coordinate positions between the two governments, after several recent disagreements in transatlantic relations. Jose Manuel Albares has offered cooperation to U.S on the ukrainian crisis, and in fact has expressly supported Washington’s strategy of warning Russia that a new invasion would result in “a severe response.”
Other challenges remain pending that very directly affect Spain, such as the US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in the Sahara Occidental and diplomatic sanctions on Spanish companies that do business with properties confiscated in Cuba, both remnants of the time of Donald Trump. For now, in these as in other matters, Joe Biden maintains the bulk of Trump’s policies, even those that weigh heavily on partners like Spain.
According to Albares in a brief conversation with the press, it is likely, based on what the US government has said, that Biden will attend the summit of the OTAN to be held in Madrid on June 29 and 30. Antony Blink, the US Secretary of State, reiterated before welcoming Albares to his first meeting of the day, that Spain “is a remarkably strong partner and ally for the US”.
After the bilateral meeting this Tuesday, which lasted an hour, the spokesman for US diplomacy, Ned Price, said that both diplomatic chiefs “spoke of the importance of coordinating actions to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and reiterated that any further Russian aggression against Ukraine will result in a severe response.”
After seeing Blinken, Albares visited the president of the House of Representatives, the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Biden’s senior partner on Capitol Hill, and had meetings on the agenda with the secretary general of the OAS, Louis Almagro, and the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, Mauricio Claver Carone.
At the meeting with Blinken, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs He only allowed Albares to accompany the public media, RNE, TVE and the Efe agency, although later the minister attended more media at the Spanish embassy in Washington. For the rest of the events, only what the Spanish embassy described as “official coverage” was allowed, that is, Albares was only accompanied by his own team, without the press. The minister is planning a press conference this Wednesday, to discuss their meetings.
Asked at the embassy if he had discussed the issue of Western Sahara with the Secretary of State, Albares said that both agreed to “join forces”, although there was no mention of it in the subsequent communication from US diplomacy.
“We have agreed to join forces to resolve this conflict that has lasted too long and for which a solution must be found,” said Albares. He did not give any details of what it means to join forces and for what, nor if Blinken has agreed to consider changing the official US policy on the moroccan sovereignty. Trump negotiated to recognize that sovereignty, without consulting Spain, in exchange for Morocco establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.
According to Europa Press, on Friday the minister will meet in Madrid with the new special envoy of the HIM-HER-IT for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, who at the end of last week paid a visit to the region aboard a Spanish Air Force plane, which has taken him both Morocco like the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria.
Albares said that he did not address the issue of Cuba, although there are Spanish companies sued in US courts for their business in Cuba. In 2020, the US State Department prohibited entry to the country to Gabriel Escarrer, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Spanish company Meliá Hotels International. The decision is justified in the so-called Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act, activated by the Trump Administration.
Before Albares, Josep Borrell, when he was foreign minister, he participated in a NATO ministerial at the State department in 2019. Arancha Gonzalez Laya had planned to visit the US capital in 2020, but did not do so due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
During the government from Sánchez relations between the two partners have undergone notable ups and downs, especially during the time of Donald Trump. In May 2019, at a time of heightened tension in the Persian Gulf, Trump ordered the dispatch of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to international waters off Iran to secure the world supply of crude oil. A group of ships was traveling with that aircraft carrier, including a Spanish frigate, the Méndez Núñez. The Sánchez Executive hastily withdrew it, alleging that this mission in Iran “was not planned.”
In April 2021, the US State Department published a report on human rights in which he denounced acts of “violence and harassment” by Spanish rulers towards the press. Weeks later, the commercial office of the White House approved tariffs against Spain for “discriminating against US companies”, and “restricting trade with the US” for approving the call Tasa Google. The Spanish Executive agreed to gradually withdraw that rate and Washington lifted the tariffs just a few months ago.