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Rajoy to meet Trump at White House in September

Source: El Pais - Mon 7th Aug 2017
Rajoy to meet Trump at White House in September

The final details are being worked out for a proposed trip by Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy to the United States in late September, where he will attend the UN General Assembly and meet President Donald Trump at the White House, said diplomatic sources on Friday.

Rajoy is due to arrive in New York on September 22, toward the end of the UN General Assembly, which begins on September 19. He would then travel to Washington to meet Trump on Monday, September 25 or Tuesday, September 26.

This will be the first full meeting between Rajoy and Trump

The Spanish Foreign Ministry and La Moncloa, the official residence of the prime minister, are still finalizing details with US officials on what will be the first full meeting between Rajoy and Trump, who briefly met at the NATO Summit in May. The pair have also held two telephone conversations.

Rajoy will not arrive in New York in time to attend the traditional reception the US president offers world leaders at the Annual General Assembly, but Spanish diplomatic sources say they were not looking for a short meeting in the corridors of the UN headquarters, but instead a visit to the White House.

Rajoy’s visit will come less than two weeks before a referendum is due to be held in Catalonia on independence for the northeastern region on October 1. The referendum has been ruled illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, and Rajoy has said he is determined to prevent it from going ahead.

That said, the decision to visit the United States is aimed at projecting an image of normality, say diplomatic sources. At the same time, there is concern that it might be seen as inappropriate for Rajoy to be absent at such a critical time, which may mean that the US trip could be shortened and limited to a meeting with Trump.

Meanwhile, the White House has announced that Duke Buchan III, a hedge fund manager and early donor to the Trump campaign, has been named as the new US ambassador to Spain and Andorra.

Buchan, 54, who studied in Valencia and Seville, speaks Catalan as well as Spanish and is the founder of Hunter Global Investors. The firm is based in Palm Beach, where Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion is located. He initially supported Jeb Bush in the Republican primaries, but then switched to Trump.

Brought up in North Carolina, Buchan also breeds horses. He studied economics and Spanish at the University of North Carolina and later attended Harvard.

Buchan donated $898,000 to the Trump campaign, and according to The New York Times, accompanied Trump during the campaign trail and was present at the three presidential debates. He also attended the inauguration.

His nomination will now have to be formally approved by the US Senate.

The United States has been without an ambassador in Spain since mid-January, when James Costos stepped down ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump.

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