While originally, meetings were scheduled for Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama had to reschedule and shorten his first presidential visit to Spain due to the series of deadly shootings in the U.S.
This isn’t the first time Barack Obama has visited Spain, as he traveled there in the 1980s as a young backpacker. However, it is the first official visit during his presidency.
As reported by El Pais, while the president was supposed to visit Seville on Monday, the two day visit was cut to just one day after the police shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, followed by a sniper attack that killed five police officers in Dallas.
Dallas shootings cast shadow over Obama trip to Spain https://t.co/32Lm8RzqNs
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 10, 2016
While it ended up being a high-speed visit, Obama first met with King Felipe IV of Spain and then the acting Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. Both leaders sat down at Moncloa Palace, Rajoy’s official residence in Madrid, on Sunday afternoon.
Spain has its own problems at present due to a political stalemate since the general elections in December and further voting in June this year. Rajoy has been unable to garner sufficient support to form a new coalition government and none of Spain’s other political parties are willing to join him.
Obama arrived at the Royal Palace in Madrid to meet with King Felipe VI at 11 a.m. Sunday. There was a brief welcoming ceremony in the palace’s reception room, after which the king thanked Obama for his visit while there were such difficult circumstances back home in the U.S.
Barack Obama shortened his symbolic first US presidential trip to Spain due to the Dallas shooting.
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) July 10, 2016
According to a report by the New York Times, President Obama said it had been a “difficult week” but that his visit to Spain was important due to the country’s strong partnership with the U.S., although he did say he wished his visit could have been longer.
According to a spokesperson for Spain’s Royal Palace, King Felipe VI had a special gift for Obama in the form of an English edition of Don Quixote, the well loved novel by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Reportedly the book’s leather cover has been stamped with the U.S. seal, along with the seal of Spain’s Royal House and the book contains a written dedication in English, signed by both the king and his wife, Queen Letizia.
It is unknown what gift the White House bestowed on the Spanish king.
A warm and heartfelt welcome to President @BarackObama on the occasion of his first official visit to Spain. pic.twitter.com/HZuSr7krwN
— Antonio Camuñas (@ManhattanManOne) July 9, 2016
After his visit to Madrid, President Obama will travel to the U.S. military base in Rota. From there he will travel back to Washington on Sunday night.
It turns out the First Lady was also in Madrid recently and visited Queen Letizia of Spain at Zarzuela Palace on June 30. Michelle Obama was in Spain to attend the presentation of “Let Girls Learn” at the Matadero Cultural Center with Spain’s queen.
The First Lady shared stories of girls she had met during her prior travels and spoke of new commitments to help the more than 62 million girls around the world who are not getting an education.
[Photo by Borja B. Hojas – Pool/Getty Images]