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Obama will meet opposition leaders on trip to Spain

US president is coming in July to inspect Rota military base and visit Madrid and Seville in final months of second term in office

Mariano Rajoy and Barack Obama at the White House in January 2014.
Mariano Rajoy and Barack Obama at the White House in January 2014.

US President Barack Obama will meet with Spain’s acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, but also with the main opposition leaders when he visits Madrid on July 11.

Barring any changes in the leadership of Spain’s four leading parties after the upcoming general election on June 26, Obama will sit down with Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP), Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE), Pablo Iglesias of Podemos and Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos, according to the preliminary agenda.

Sources at the embassy in Madrid said it is normal for the president and other high-ranking officials in the US administration to meet members of the opposition on their foreign trips

These meetings are scheduled for after a lunch that will be be hosted by the Spanish king and queen at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Obama will land in Seville on July 9 on his way home from the Polish capital of Warsaw, where he is attending a NATO summit. He will take a tour of Seville the next day, as well as making a stop at the US military base of Rota, where four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers will be waiting for him, along with more than 4,500 US citizens – including military personnel and their families.

From Rota, Obama will fly to Madrid. As well as his meetings with leading politicians, he is also expected to participate in a youth event.

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Sources at the US Embassy in Madrid emphasized that it is customary for the president and other high-ranking officials in the US administration to meet members of the opposition on their foreign trips. State Secretary John Kerry met Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez in October 2014.

The same sources say that the US embassy has good relations with Podemos, the leftist anti-austerity party currently second in the opinion polls, noting that its leader, Pablo Iglesias, met with Ambassador James Costos in March 2015.

English version by Susana Urra.

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