The President of the Government of Spain describes the US President as a benchmark for the defence of democracy

President's News - 2023.5.12

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White House, Washington (United States)

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, met this afternoon with the President of the US, Joe Biden, in the Oval Office of the White House. The visit comes less than a year since the two leaders signed an ambitious Joint Declaration in Madrid, the first in more than 20 years, which includes multiple areas of collaboration to deepen the bilateral relationship.

Both leaders highlighted joint efforts to progress with the promotion of human rights, democracy and a rules-based international order on a global scale. "President Biden, I, like many citizens around the world, who would never have imagined that democracy would be threatened in Washington itself, see you as a reference for its defence," stressed President Sánchez. "I believe that Spain and the US share common values. We are allies, friends and strategic partners," he continued.

During the meeting, the two leaders referred to the war in Ukraine, reaffirming their condemnation of Russian aggression and their determination to continue to support Ukraine in the defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. "We are helping Ukraine together. I cannot thank you enough," Joe Biden told President Sánchez in the Oval Office of the White House. The president of the Government emphasised the importance of working together to achieve a just and lasting peace that respects international law and the principles set out in the United Nations Charter, as proposed by President Zelenski in his peace formula.

President Sánchez's visit to the White House takes place shortly before Spain will take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. He shared with President Biden the priorities for the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, especially on issues that affect both countries. Spain will promote open strategic autonomy, aimed at reducing risks and vulnerabilities in strategic areas such as the digital economy, health, critical raw materials, energy security and food security, while at the same time strengthening alliances with other partners, such as the US. Relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, a region in which Spain, the EU and the US share common interests and which will be the subject of the EU-CELAC Summit next July, will also be promoted.

Bilateral commitments: Palomares, scientific cooperation and trade and investment

The visit served as the stage for the two governments to make some important commitments to deepen the bilateral relationship and build on the 2022 Joint Declaration in many areas. Spain and the US are friends, allies and strategic partners with a solid relationship, collaborating closely in areas such as defence and security, particularly within the framework of NATO, but also in other multilateral forums such as the United Nations and the G20.

President Sánchez and President Biden expressed their desire to resolve the nuclear waste issue at Palomares, which includes the removal of contaminated soil and its storage on US territory. The technical teams of the two administrations will meet as soon as possible to work out the details of this issue to start work on the transfer of the waste.

The two governments also agreed to expand scientific and technological cooperation. In the important space sector, President Sánchez announced that Spain will join the Artemis agreements, which promote collaboration between countries with the aim of going back to the moon and preparing for a future trip to Mars. In a similar vein, with the creation of the Spanish Space Agency, Spain's collaboration with NASA, which goes all the way back to 1964 through the Robledo de Chavela facilities, will be renewed and bilateral cooperation in space exploration, particularly on Mars, will be strengthened. In addition, the Spanish Ministry of Science and the US Department of Energy will promote scientific cooperation via various advanced research and expert exchange programmes in fields such as quantum research and neutrino experimentation, among others.

During their meeting, President Sánchez insisted on the importance of defending the multilateral trading system, with a modernised WTO at its core, thereby guaranteeing a level playing field. Sánchez stressed the importance of making progress in trade negotiations between the US and the EU - an issue he will promote under the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU - and in the resolution of some pending bilateral disputes, such as the issue of tariffs on Spanish black olives.

Working together vis-à-vis global challenges: climate emergency, digital transformation, migration

The two countries will also intensify their collaboration to jointly address the major global challenges of our time. They agreed to increase their cooperation in areas such as climate change and migration, addressing the issues of Artificial Intelligence, semiconductors and the challenges posed by digital transformation.

Presidents Sanchez and Biden shared their concern about the climate emergency and their conviction that green and digital transitions lead to the creation of opportunities, jobs and growth. Investments and reforms are needed to implement these transitions and to ensure that their benefits reach all citizens. The two leaders also underlined the importance of cooperating at the multilateral level, with a view to achieving an ambitious and balanced outcome at the Dubai Climate Summit (COP28) in November, especially with a view to limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Spain and the US will work together to combat desertification under the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA), an initiative launched by Spain in 2022 together with Senegal. Spain will join the US initiative "Net Zero Government" (NZGI), a commitment to reach emission neutrality in government by 2050.

The two allies will also intensify their bilateral collaboration on weather and climate observation and forecasting, with a view to further strengthening early warning systems, and to progress with ocean protection. The two countries will likewise strengthen their technological cooperation in renewable energies to accelerate their development and implementation.

Migration is also a global issue of joint concern. The US and Spain are committed to working to promote orderly, regular and safe migration flows from Latin America, encouraging labour-based migration. To this end, and together with Canada and the US, a trilateral framework of cooperation has been agreed for the development of regional migration centres, the expansion of existing circular migration programmes and the development of a complementary pathway for migrants and persons seeking international protection.

The two countries have agreed to strengthen cooperation in regions of particular and common interest. To this end, they underlined the importance of working together to coordinate positions relating to security and development in the Sahel. This expands the model adopted last year with the creation of the US-Spain Working Group for Central America, which has facilitated joint work between the two administrations.

With regard to the Partnership for Economic Prosperity in the Americas, both countries emphasised the importance of working with regional institutions and development banks to promote the creation of decent jobs and improve the quality of life of citizens in the region.

Last, Spain will join initiatives promoted by the US government, such as the Blue Dot Network, to promote infrastructure projects that meet the highest quality standards. Spain will join the Global Equality Fund, aimed at working towards equality, freedom and dignity for all people (including LGTBIQ+ people), and the Global Alliance for Action against Online Gender Harassment and Abuse, to share best practices in the fight against gender-based violence.

Non official translation