First bilateral meeting between Joe Biden and Pedro Sánchez. The president of the United States visited the Spanish prime minister in the latter's Moncloa palace in Madrid this Tuesday, ahead of the NATO summit in the Spanish capital this Wednesday and Thursday. The two leaders signed a joint statement emphasizing the "renewal" of the "solid relationship" between the two countries and their cooperation in "defence, security, human rights, gender equality, immigration, climate change, energy and scientific cooperation". One of the most notable aspects was that Biden pledged to help Sánchez "promote orderly migration management" in the north of Africa, an announcement that comes just days after the tragedy in Melilla, which resulted in the death of 37 migrants. In this regard, the two leaders consider it appropriate to start from a "comprehensive approach to the management of irregular migratory flows."
In matters of defence and immigration, the joint declaration includes a section headed "Promoting safe, orderly and regular migration", which details that this "orderly" migration management obliges them to "ensure the just and humane treatment of migrants". In the joint press appearance of Sánchez and Biden, which lasted about 75 minutes, the two leaders agreed on the "importance of ongoing cooperation in response to the challenges of irregular immigration in the North Africa region." They also subscribed in this regard to the need to investigate the “root causes” that explain this irregular migration and “work to strengthen legal pathways”.
Another notable agreement that emerged from this meeting between Sánchez and Biden at the Moncloa is an increase in the US military presence at the Rota naval base, near the Andalusian city of Cádiz. The US president announced that his country will add two further destroyers to the NATO missile shield based in Spain. Currently, there are four of these vessels based at Rota, which were put in place between 2014 and 2015, so it will expand to six. Biden pointed out the importance of the Morón and Rota bases and described them as "fundamental". Thus, the agreed measure involves "expanding cooperation" with "the permanent basing of American warships at Rota." This will mean that the strength of US troops in Rota will increase by 600 but, for this to be possible, it will be necessary to renew the cooperation agreement, an agreement that will have to go through the Spanish cabinet and will have to be validated in the Congress of Deputies.
An "historic" NATO summit
After the meeting, Joe Biden stated that the NATO summit which Madrid is hosting this Wednesday and Thursday will be "historic", given that it takes place in a context "marked by the war caused by Russia in Ukraine", which has created an "unpredictable and uncertain" scenario giving rise to a "more dangerous security environment." For his part, Pedro Sánchez maintained that this new joint declaration between the United States and Spain will serve to "update and strengthen relations" between the two countries. On the summit, Biden recalled that it will allow the design of a "new strategic concept that will guide the Atlantic Alliance's response to transnational threats."
In the press appearance, in which neither Sánchez nor Biden took questions, the American president asserted that "Spain is an indispensable ally within NATO." "This Tuesday, we have come together to defend our shared security and to strengthen our Transatlantic alliance, responding to the challenge which we have been given," Biden said. Finally, the US leader had words of praise for Spain's reception of Ukrainian refugees: "It is a remarkable testimony to the spirit of determination and acceptance welcoming of the Spanish people."