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Barack Obama meets with prime minister on family trip to Spain

The former US president spoke to Pedro Sánchez in Madrid during an economic forum, and visited the Reina Sofía museum with King Felipe the next day

Pedro Sánchez and Barack Obama.
Pedro Sánchez and Barack Obama. EFE

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has met with former US president Barack Obama in Madrid. It was “a cordial meeting of two people who know a lot about how to lead a country,” said government spokesperson Isabel Celaá at a press conference. “Short but interesting.”

According to Celaá, “it was a meeting between two people with closed agendas who nevertheless wanted to greet one another and talk for a few minutes. They were alone and Sánchez did not say what they had spoken about.”

Sánchez did not reveal what the two spoke about

The meeting, which lasted a quarter of an hour, took place on Friday at the Technological Innovation and Circular Summit where Obama was a guest speaker. The former president’s section of the conference was entitled: “A Conversation with Barack Obama: The impacts and challenges of climate changes in the World,” and was moderated by the Advanced Leadership Foundation (ALF).

During the talk, Obama criticized the administration of current US President Donald Trump for showing “little interest” in climate change and for making cuts to investments in science. “We are making a big mistake,” he said, without mentioning Trump by name. The former leader of the United States also shared his concern about populist politics, arguing: “It’s in these cases that democracy begins to be destroyed, when trust is substituted for fear.”

Meeting with King Felipe

On Saturday, Obama met privately with Spain’s King Felipe VI at the Reina Sofía Museum where they spent time admiring Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and a selection of works by Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí. According to sources from the Royal Household, the king also gave the former president a book about Guernica with a personal dedication.

King Felipe with Barack Obama.
King Felipe with Barack Obama.

Family time

Obama traveled to Madrid with his family and has a strictly private agenda for his remaining days in Spain. The trip to the country is an opportunity to spend time with his daughters, who have just begun their summer vacations. Malia, 19, has finished her first year at Harvard University in Cambridge and Sasha, 17, has graduated from Sidwell Friends School in Washington and will take a one-year sabbatical before deciding on her next move.

Obama visited Spain when he was president in 2016 and had previously traveled to the country as a 26-year-old backpacker.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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