Saturday, January 29, 2005

BUSH MAY MEET Zapatero next month, finally... although the source is El Pais, the pro-Socialist newspaper trying to sell the idea that the relationship between Spain and the US is not as bad as it really is. The PA (via The Scotsman) reports:
US President George W. Bush may meet Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero during an upcoming trip to Brussels, a move that could help repair relations damaged by Zapatero’s decision to pull troops out of Iraq, news reports said today.

Bush mentioned that he might meet Zapatero during a telephone call with long-time friend King Juan Carlos of Spain who rang Bush on Wednesday to congratulate him on his presidential inauguration last week, the leading daily El Pais said.

The royal palace confirmed that a phone call between the king and Bush had taken place but said it could not comment on the content of the conversation.
This is pure spin, and speculation: not only the conversation was private, but it can't be denied -nor confirmed- by the royal palace because all of the King's private conversations cannot be disclosed. It's a safe move by El Pais, because the royal palace cannot officially say that it's a lie, if that's the case. And in the event that the leak is true, well, what El País reported, literally, was (no link because it's subscription only): "La Casa Blanca no descarta que el presidente George W. Bush mantenga una conversación con el presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, en la visita que tiene previsto realizar a Bruselas dentro de tres semanas, según fuentes de la Administración norteamericana" ["The White House doesn't rule out the possibility of a conversation between Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and president George W. Bush during his planned visit to Brussels in three weeks, according to US administration sources"] (my emphasis).

Doesn't look like Bush is dying to see Zapatero, does it?; it looks more like a "no" in diplo-speak. It's not the first time the Spanish government, with the 'inestimable' assistance from El Pais, spins furiously on this issue. After waiting by the phone for Bush's return call, which hasn't happened yet, Zapatero was like a kid with new shoes when he got a thank-you note from W. (the PA report above mentions this note): "well, he may not have called yet, but he wrote!" was the idea. And even this idea was wrong: a Spanish news organization reported (link in Spanish) that the note didn't come from Bush, nor even from the White House: it was a formulaic note sent from the US embassy in Madrid.