Spanish PM sees ascent of Obama as opportunity for peace

January 21st, 2009 - 9:25 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaMadrid, Jan 21 (IANS) The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the US “opens an opportunity that we will not squander,” Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said.Zapatero described Obama’s inaugural address as “very positive”, EFE news agency reported, citing aides to the Socialist premier.

“The new president’s (Obama’s) words feed hope that dialogue and peace take the place of the conflicts which today exist in the world and that the distribution of wealth will be more equitable,” said Zapatero, who watched the entire inauguration ceremony on television here.

He said that Obama’s speech also pointed to chances “for a fluid and fruitful relationship” between Madrid and Washington.

The Spanish government expects a notable improvement in bilateral ties with the departure of the Bush administration, which slammed Zapatero for ordering Spain’s troops out of Iraq on his first full day in office.

Ending the involvement in Iraq - which, according to polls, was opposed by around 90 percent of Spaniards - was a key plank of Zapatero’s 2004 campaign platform.

While confident of amiable relations with Obama, aides say Zapatero will wait “a reasonable time” before seeking a personal encounter with the new US leader.

The Spanish prime minister is looking forward to “in-depth” talks with Obama on Latin America in general and Cuba in particular, officials in Madrid added.

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