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Biden and Sánchez meet for the first time, with the relationship with Morocco as a backdrop

Posted: Monday June 14 2021 7:04 AM

The Chief Executive, Pedro Sánchez, meets this Monday in Brussels with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, for his first meeting since his arrival at the White House on January 20.

Last week, the government confirmed that the two leaders would meet on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels, after discreet work by the cabinets of the two presidencies. In the background, in addition to strengthening the intense relations between the two countries, turning the page on the Trump era and one of its most controversial decisions: the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara.

The officials of the diplomacy of the two countries, Arancha González Laya and Anthony Blinken, already held talks last Friday to prepare the meeting at the highest level between the two governments.

Among other issues, in addition to the new pace for NATO, Laya and Blinken discussed the Middle East and Latin America, stressing the need for “orderly, safe and regular” migration. The two administrations share the serious problem of migratory crises at their southern borders.

Sánchez is taking advantage of the appointment of the Atlantic Alliance to meet his American counterpart. Since Biden took over the presidency in January, there had not yet been a call between the two, an extreme that the opposition had criticized the prime minister, pointing to an alleged international weakness for the fact.

Main themes: Russia, Morocco and China

It will be on the sidelines of the NATO summit, where European and North American partners will discuss Russia’s “aggressive” behavior, the rise of China as a world power, the increase in cyberattacks and even the international terrorism. The first meeting between Sánchez and Biden takes place in the midst of a diplomatic crisis with Morocco, after more than 10,000 people, including 2,000 minors, entered Ceuta irregularly on May 17 and 18 due to the passivity of the Moroccan security forces.

The announcement of the meeting between the two came shortly after the White House spoke openly about the “important and profound differences” between the policies of the current government and those of former President Donald Trump in the Maghreb region. In this sense, the Biden administration has acknowledged that it also differs in the recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Trump’s remarks on the hegemony he granted to Morocco over Saharawi territory caused a political earthquake with an international dimension which did not please Spain either. Although Pedro Sánchez confined himself to indicating that the government’s position was well known “on this issue – based on UN resolutions and international legality – Podemos was much more direct”.

“It seems that there are those who want to continue to impose positions against democracy and international law,” denounced the leaders of the purple formation, contrary to what the North American magnate had previously said. The question is not parked with the words of Biden on the role to be developed by Morocco in this context, because this Thursday the European Parliament votes a resolution condemning the neighboring country for the use of minors in the recent crisis in Ceuta.

Concretely, the four large groups of the hemicycle (popular, socialist, liberal and green) negotiated a tough resolution which “rejects the use by Morocco of border and migration control, and in particular that of unaccompanied minors, as political pressure against an EU member state ”. . This initiative did not go unanswered from Rabat, which accused Spain of orchestrating “a maneuver to Europeanize a purely bilateral problem”.

In addition to the migration issue, it is expected that the Spanish and North American presidents, during their meeting, address their vision of the reform program that the Alliance wants to promote for 2030, including initiatives against climate change. Spain has offered to host the NATO summit in 2022 (coinciding with the 40th anniversary of its entry into the Atlantic Alliance), an aspiration which the Spanish government says will be confirmed in the one to be held on Monday. in Brussels.

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