AGENCIES

A show of solidarity between Biden and Sánchez as Nato meets in Madrid

The US president described Spain as an “indispensable partner” and announced that extra troops and two more destroyers are to be sent to the Naval Base in Rota

LOURDES PÉREZ Madrid

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez and US president Joe Biden held a press conference after their hour-long meeting on Tuesday afternoon and issued a joint declaration to update and strengthen relations between their two countries, in a historic period marked by Vladimir Putin’s expansionist invasion of Ukraine.

They spoke of the importance of unity at Nato in the face of the new shared threat represented by Russia aggression and said that, together with the other leaders, they would defend “a world with rules,” against what Biden described as Putin’s autarkic regime.

President Biden said that Spain had become an “indispensable partner” in Nato, 40 years after joining, and he was pleased their two countries had built a reliable and solid alliance. Their improved relationship is reflected in the joint declaration, which includes issues ranging from security to climate change and energy, as well as immigration and gender equality.

Pedro Sánchez, who described their meeting as “a milestone”, also stressed the gravity of the present threat posed by Putin to international security and peace, and said rearmament is needed to show the Russian president that Nato will react cohesively to defend the rules against what Biden described as “the greatest provocation since World War II”.

At the meeting at La Moncloa, Biden had demanded that Spain assigns 2% of its GDP on defence spending, as required by Nato, and said the US would be adding another two destroyers to the Naval Base in Rota (Cadiz), where Nato’s missile shield is located, bringing the total to six.

He also said his country would be sending more troops to Rota in 2024 and 2026. At present around 6,000 are deployed in Rota and the other US base in Andalucía, Morón de la Frontera (Seville) .

This military expansion by the US is likely to cause conflict for Pedro Sánchez with his coalition party, Unidas Podemos, and others. The cooperation agreement between Spain and the USA will now have to be renewed and he could face difficulties in trying to get it passed by parliament.