Remarks With Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo y Marfil
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: Hello, everybody. Good afternoon, all. I’m delighted to welcome my friend and counterpart, the distinguished Foreign Minister of Spain, Jose Garcia-Margallo. And we have just come from a very positive, constructive meeting at the White House with His Majesty Felipe and President Obama. We didn’t do any – just – no translation? Okay.
Let me re-emphasize what President Obama said, and for myself thank Spain for its tremendous cooperation on so many different fronts. We are working closely on countering violent extremism, on the coalition against ISIL. Spain has made an important commitment and contribution on peacekeeping now.
And most importantly, in the last year or so Spain has made some very tough decisions, which has moved its economy. It’s engaged now in economic recovery. And we have great affection here in the United States for the remarkable connection between Spain and the United States – indeed, the entire hemisphere. The history is so enormous, rich, long – and in fact, his majesty will be going to Florida to celebrate St. Augustine and the early connections of Spain with the United States.
But today, we’re on a modern journey – much change and very important to all of us. And I know the President and I both express our very strong feelings about a continued relationship with Spain that is a strong, robust, and united Spain. And this is important to us as we go forward.
FOREIGN MINISTER GARCIA-MARGALLO: (Inaudible) Spanish (inaudible), no?
FOREIGN MINISTER GARCIA-MARGALLO: Ah, okay. Well, shall I speak in English or in Spanish?
STAFF: Whatever you prefer.
FOREIGN MINISTER GARCIA-MARGALLO: In English. All right, well. I thank John Kerry for having me here, especially coming Madrid in the 18 and 19th in October. Last time he was unable to come because he had an accident. Anyway, we bought a guitar, because I was told that he would like to play some guitar for us. And you will do that --
SECRETARY KERRY: This is totally new to me. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER GARCIA-MARGALLO: Okay. Well, for us, for Spain this time, we have two special relations. One is the opinion and (inaudible) nation. (Inaudible) everything would be easier in all the part of world. And there, there are some areas in the world in which we cannot value as a Spaniards. We (inaudible) in Latin America (inaudible) long and difficult system. We can be very useful in our relation to North Africa, and we are facing now a lot of challenges there. We are passionately (inaudible) in Central Africa – in Central Africa Republic, and we are present in Somalia, in Mali, and (inaudible) Guinea.
And we are acting together and cooperating very closely on Libya, which is one of the main problems we are facing now. We are together in the Middle East, talking at the peace process, because we have to take some decisions at the Security Council. There are some ideas from our French colleagues that we have to talk about.
We are of course members of the international coalition which is fighting against Daesh. Of course, Syria is an issue. Iraq is another issue; Yemen, of course, as well. And now, as I told John Kerry, I am back from Tehran (inaudible). I want to congratulate the Secretary of State for this achievement. We will do our best. We are chairing the committee in the Security Council (inaudible). We are very excited about the outcome of this agreement, not only on bilateral issues, not only on avoiding a risk – we were certain that Iran (inaudible) because it can open in the future, and it will no longer do that – and our close cooperation on Iran to solve the many problems we have in that region.
Probably one of the most important things we are attacking now – and you – I see you have probably heard about this – the refugees and the migrant crisis. It seems that an agreement has not been agreed upon about the refugees. We will get it. And we are attacking now the problem of migration, which is a different problem. But the European Union has launched a fund of 1.8 billion euros for cooperation of the neighboring countries and North Africa, especially the neighboring countries (inaudible). That’s a challenge that humanity should face as a whole, and we’ll work together on that.
On our bilateral relation, I said that probably they are the best we ever had in many years, in – both in security, culture, education, and economic. We are very interested in the TTIP. We believe that that is important as such, and it’s very important to open the negotiation – the (inaudible) of the negotiation with MERCOSUR especially and Brazil, so we can (inaudible) Atlantic region, we can enclose the Pacific (inaudible). And, of course, we are together in Russia and Ukraine. We are committed with our other partners and allies, including our partner (inaudible), and we will do it.
So the only thing – I wanted to thank John again, to say how happy we are to see that our relations are so good, and to thank the Secretary and President Obama for his statement about the strong, reliable, and united Spain. We are the – probably the oldest nation in the Earth. We were born back in 1469, before America was discovered, and we really believe that the – to be together – better together (inaudible) used to say. And we thank the American Government, especially the President and the Secretary, for his statement. (Inaudible) was expected, I know. I studied in America. I know (inaudible) Texas and White, 1869 establishes the indissolubility of the union, of the American union. That’s the case also in Spain, and we are looking forward to working together as we have done in the past. And we are looking to – for you in Madrid (inaudible).
SECRETARY KERRY: Looking forward to it. Thank you, my friend.
FOREIGN MINISTER GARCIA-MARGALLO: Thank you, John.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you so much. Thank you.