U.S. President Barack Obama has praised America's relationship with Spain as a "bond of friendship" with "shared economic and security interests" and warned that the two nations must be inclusive in an increasingly global society.
“We have a world that is integrating rapidly and presents enormous opportunities, but if our institutional arrangements do not ensure inclusion, if we do not coordinate effectively on economic and security issues then it can presents great dangers," Obama said Sunday after meeting in Madrid, Spain with acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Not being inclusive in world affairs, Obama said, could alienate citizens throughout the world, causing conflict, mass immigration, and the creation of safe havens for terrorism.
“If global integration does not work for everybody, if it simply helps elites, and you see growing inequality, and people feel left behind then you will get a crude populism that often is divisive and that’s not good for anybody," Obama added.
Obama's meeting with Rajoy came as Spain grapples with high unemployment and remains in the grip of a political crisis sparked by two general elections that produced no clear winner.
Since democracy returned in the late 1970s, a center-left and a center-right party have dominated Spanish politics. But insurgent leftists have prevented the dominant parties from forming a government.
Obama also met in Madrid with leftist leaders and with Spain's King Felipe.
The president later arrived at Rota Naval Station in southern Spain, where he was greeted by Spain's Acting Defense Minister Pedro Morenes. Obama addressed U.S. and Spanish troops, saying, "We are going to keep standing together to meet the challenges of our time in the face of terrorists networks that seek to destroy. We are going to prevail not only because of our military strength, but because we will stay true to our values."
"And at this moment of uncertainty in Europe, we’ll remain steadfast allies through NATO, the strongest alliance that the world has ever known," the president added.
The trip to Spain was cut short in order for Obama to visit Dallas, Texas, where five police officers were fatally shot last week in an ambush by an African American man who officials said was upset about recent fatal police shootings of two African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
It was Obama's first presidential visit to Spain, the largest European country that had yet to welcome him. He traveled to Spain after attending a NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland.