Sánchez seeks to stage with Biden the relaunch of the relationship with the US

It happened just over a year ago. On June 14, 2021, in Brussels, at the NATO summit. Pedro Sánchez and Joe Biden, who had inaugurated the position of president of the United States half a year ago, spoke for the first time, but only during a tour of a corridor during less than half a minute. A mere formal greeting. La Moncloa had raised expectations days before, anticipating that they would talk for a few minutes. But it was not like that, although the Government later explained that they had shared before the cameras captured them together. That fiasco (from which, however, came the decision that the next summit would be held in Madrid, in 2022) marked the Chief Executive: a snowball had been fed from his team that no one knew how to stop in time. The setback, as they would later report from their surroundings, did nothing more than add points in favor of the dismissal of his Cabinet director, Iván Redondo. And the dismissal came, just a month later, accompanied by the promotion, to that same position, of a veteran socialist ‘plumber’, Óscar López.

Since then, Moncloa has tried to manage with much more cautious the relations between Sánchez and Biden. Finally, both will see each other, already in a bilateral meeting, alone and in the presidential palace, this Tuesday. At 4:00 p.m., before the opening of a NATO summit that the Government is taking care of with care so that it responds to the “historic” expectation. But the government let the White House advance the news, advance that the Democratic leader would meet in Madrid with Sánchez and with the King, separately. And who stressed that both interviews are intended to reaffirm the “strong bilateral relationship” between the two countries. Moncloa was simply in charge of subsequently offering the ‘timing’ and highlighting the “maximum importance” that it attaches to the meeting of the two leaders, because the United States is a “key strategic partner“. I did not want to err.

In the president’s circle they insist that the objective is not to schedule a return visit, although “there will be content.” The objective is to “reinforce” a good dialogue at a key moment

The long-sought photo with Biden, which will stage the cordiality and intense ties between the two administrations, will serve Sánchez as portico of the NATO summit in Madrid which will officially open on Wednesday the 29th and which will have its first family photo hours before, at the gala dinner offered by the King and Queen to the 30 Heads of State and Government of the Alliance and their spouses. That image will be, in itself, very powerful. The two leaders have subsequently met in multilateral forums —at the G-20 last October in Rome, at the European Council last March in Brussels—, they have talked by phone (the last time, a week ago), but they had never dispatched together and alone. This Tuesday’s will be, as Moncloa underlines, Biden’s first official visit to Spain. A bilateral meeting that takes place on the sidelines of the Alliance summit, which has an entity in itself. Biden will be the tenth president of the united states to set foot in our country: the first, in 1959, was Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the last, in 2016, it was Barack Obama.

The appointment, they indicate in the Executive, crowns the “numerous contacts“of the two presidents and the two governments in the last year and a half, since the Democrat took over from Donald Trump. The collaboration was strengthened with the departure from Afghanistan, in which Spain acted as a European reception and care ‘hub’ of the refugees, and has been strengthened after the Russian invasion. In fact, Biden transferred to Sánchez, in the telephone conversation that both had last week, his “gratitude for the close cooperation of Spain” in response to the war in Ukraine, “including its provision of security and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and support for strong sanctions” against Moscow. So the objective of this Tuesday’s meeting is “to reinforce, update, renew the strategic relationship between Spain and the US”, they point out in Moncloa.

It remains up in the air if there will be a return visit by Sánchez to the White House, a hypothesis in which the team of the Chief Executive does not yet want to enter: “Every day has its eagerness.” In March 2020, and due to the pandemic, Kings scheduled state trip to Washington canceled. In Moncloa they emphasize that the objective is not so much to schedule a return visit, although they do guarantee that “there will be content“, decisions, beyond words.

In the leader’s team they emphasize that the relationship between the two countries is “close, intense and continuous at all levels”, and the fact that Biden has set up a bilateral with him —on his trip to Europe it has only done so with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, within the framework of the G-7—is “a way of emphasizing the importance of the relationship”. So it is about “reinforcing” a “very intense” dialogue with the US in a world that is so changing, in the midst of war with Russia. The planet faces what the leader of NATO, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenbergcall “pivotal moment for our security“, they remember in Moncloa.

Also visit Ifema

The Air Force One of Biden will land at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base around 3:30 p.m. from Germany, after concluding the G-7 meeting. The president will be received by Felipe VI. Afterwards, the delegation will head towards Moncloa, for the interview with Sanchez, which is estimated to last one hour, and will be followed by a joint institutional statement (no questions asked). The US president will then march to the Royal Palacefor his audience with the Monarch, prior to the gala dinner in which he will be accompanied by his wife, Jill, which landed on Sunday night in Torrejón. She herself was seen this Monday with Queen Letizia and also had a meeting in Moncloa with Begoña Gómez, the wife of the socialist leader. Meeting, state government sources, requested by the American first lady.

The Chief Executive also receives the ‘premiers’ from Australia, New Zealand and Iceland this Tuesday at Moncloa and will visit Ifema with Stoltenberg

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The interview with Biden will be the main course for Sánchez on the day prior to the official start of the summit. But he has the agenda loaded from the first hour. Because he receives the prime ministers of Australia, Anthony Albanese, at Moncloa at 9:00, 10:30 and 18:00; New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, and Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir. In addition, he visits the Ifema facilities at 12 o’clock, which will host the meeting of the Alliance, together with Stoltenbergwith whom he will have lunch at the presidential palace next.

The day ends with the gala dinner at the Royal Palace offered by the King and Queen to the Heads of State and Government of the 30 allied countries and the Presidents of the Council and the European Commission, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, more the leaders of Sweden and Finland – candidate countries for accession, if Turkey lifts its veto -, and of the AP4 (Australia, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand), and their respective companions. Hours later, the summit will open that will put Madrid in the center of the west and Sánchez as host of a key meeting. Russia, China, the integration of Sweden and Finland or attention to the southern neighborhood will define a meeting called to mark a milestone in the history of the Alliance.

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