It has been a busy month in our engagement with Spain, one of the United States’ closest allies and friends.
On June 2nd – 3rd, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Francisco Sanchez, Undersecretary for International Trade at Commerce, were in Oviedo for the annual U.S. –Spain Council forum, a platform for government and business representatives to come together and discuss trade and investment. U.S. –Spain commercial ties, already impressive, are expanding: Spain is now the second-fastest growing investor in the United States in sectors such as infrastructure, financial services and renewable energy.
On June 30th Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano visited Madrid, where First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalacaba hosted a meeting that also included France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the UK to discuss multilateral collaboration in border security and combating transnational crime and terrorism. While there, Secretary Napolitano and Minister Rubalacaba signed the U.S.-Spain Agreement on Science and Technology for Homeland and Security Matters, a framework that will allow us to share best practices and technology to detect transnational threats. This will help us to build on our already successful cooperation in initiatives like Operation Pacific Rim, a transnational crime investigation that since 2009 has identified and dismantled the largest drug trafficking and bulk cash smuggling ring in U.S. law enforcement history.
On July 1st and 2nd I traveled with Secretary of State Clinton to Madrid, where she was personally welcomed by King Juan Carlos and we met with President Zapatero, Foreign Minister Jimenez and other Spanish officials to discuss the many bilateral, regional and global issues on which our two countries work so closely together. We especially appreciate the support of the Spanish government and the Spanish people for their contributions to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, where Spain is helping train the Afghan police force and leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team, and to the NATO mission in Libya, where Spain is helping to enforce the no fly-zone and the arms embargo. We are proud of our long tradition of bilateral defense cooperation and value Spain’s hospitality in hosting U.S. bases at Rota and Moron. We agreed to deepen our collaboration on efforts to strengthen young democracies and fragile economies in North Africa. And in Latin America, where the U.S. and Spain are leading the international community in providing aid and development assistance, we will coordinate our efforts to increase the professionalism of the police, improve citizens’ access to the courts, and fight corruption. We also discussed cooperation in global development initiatives, welcoming Spain’s decision to join the Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and help bring safe, clean cooking and heating solutions to impoverished communities.
As the President has said, the ties between America and Spain run centuries deep, and the many high-level visits of the past month reflect and reaffirm our enduring and dynamic relationship. Our alliance with Spain is based on shared values and common interests – and the Obama Administration will continue to do lots of important work with Spain bilaterally and in NATO to the benefit of both of our peoples.
Liz Sherwood-Randall is Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European Affairs on the National Security Staff.