The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has commented on the Catalan independence referendum planned for the 1st October in a press conference at the White House today alongside Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, following their meeting today. The US president said that "I think [Rajoy] would say they're not going to have a vote, but I think the people would be very much opposed to that".
The president responded to two questions from journalists about the Catalan issue in a quite ambiguous, even confused way. Responding to the first, about whether he supports the actions taken by Rajoy's government in Catalonia, he said that "Spain is a great country and it should remain united". He continued that "nobody knows if they're going to have a vote" on 1st October, "I think [Rajoy] would say they're not going to have a vote, but I think the people would be very much opposed to that".
"I would like to see Spain continue to be united," — President Trump https://t.co/T2nPXNXR6F— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 26, 2017
Later he was asked whether he saw a solution to the Catalan conflict, whether he would support dialogue between the Spanish and Catalan governments. He replied that "if you had accurate polling, you'd find... [the people of Catalonia] love Spain and they wouldn't leave". "I'm for a united Spain", he added, noting his "great respect" for Spain and its president. "I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain, I think it would be foolish not to."
Rajoy will not call early elections
Rajoy followed Trump answering the two questions about the referendum, reiterating his conviction that the referendum is a "crazy idea". He rejected the idea that he might have to call early elections after the approval of the budget was delayed this Tuesday given the uncertainty of the PNV (Basque Nationalist Party). "It's not on my horizon to bring the elections forward whatever the result is of what we're talking about", he said, referring to the referendum.
At the start of the press conference, Trump described his talks with Rajoy as "very productive" and emphasised the historic ties between the United States and Spain, who he described as "close allies" and "great friends". Rajoy also emphasised the "great relations" between the two countries and called for them to be improved in the area of the economy. Trump, meanwhile, noted that Spain is the 10th-largest investor in the US.