Spain won't use its defense cooperation with the United States as leverage in its push against tariffs on European products, the Spanish foreign minister said on Wednesday ahead of a visit to Washington that aims to end the loss of business by Spanish producers of wine, olives and their oil.
But Arancha González Laya said both defense and trade — including the one-billion-dollar (930 million euros) worth of Spanish exports hit by last year’s U.S. tariffs — will feature high in her agenda next week when she paves the way for a royal state visit in April.
“We’ll look at the differences, and we'll do it the way two partners do: Talking about it, preferably discreetly,” she told The Associated Press.
González Laya recently took the reins of Spain’s diplomacy in a new left-wing coalition government,
The U.S. wants to expand significantly its presence in two bases in southern Spain, which are used as a stepping stone for operations in Africa and the Middle East.
González Laya, a seasoned bureaucrat with previous jobs in the U.N. and the World Trade Organization, made headlines earlier this year when she suggested that the future presence of the U.S. military there would become part of other negotiations with its long-time ally.
González Laya is scheduled to meet her counterpart, U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo, on March 16. She and fellow Spanish Cabinet member, Trade Minister Reyes Maroto, will also be seeing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The visit will continue in the White House, with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, to iron out preparations for the administration’s third state dinner, on April 21, hosting Spanish King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia.
The black-tie dinner is usually reserved for the country’s staunch allies, as the U.S. president and first lady Melania Trump did for France in April 2018 and Australia in September 2019.
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