Spanish government looks beyond Bush to improve relations with US

Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs rules out US visit while Bush still in power

Following a meeting with the US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, in Washington Houston, Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs has ruled out any meeting between Zapatero and George Bush at the White House.

The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs emphasised that the Spanish government was now looking at building a new relationship with the next US president following the general elections due to be held in November this year.

Moratinos met with officials running the leadership campaigns for all the White House hopefuls – John McCain, Barack Obama all Hillary Clinton and confirmed that all of them want to have better relations with Spain.

During the meeting with Rice, Moratinos underlined the will of the Spanish government to work very closely with the US in areas of mutual interest such as the Middle East and Latin America. Moratinos said that Rice had expressed her hope over the possibility of a peace agreement being reached between Israel and Palestine.

Moratinos underlined that he had seen goodwill on both sides to reach an agreement before the end of 2008 following his recent trip to Israel and Egypt.

Moratinos and Rice also talked about the situation in Lebanon where Spain has deployed 1,100 soldiers along with other NATO peacekeeping forces. The expansion of NATO to include Georgia and the Ukraine was also a topic of conversation.
The two also spoke about Cuba, an area of contention between both contries. While the Spanish government favours dialogue with Cuba the US refuses to establish any diplomatic relations with the Cuban government until democratic elections are held.

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister told Rice that Spain wants to build a new relationship with the US and said that Madrid was an ally, partner and friend of the US.

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