World Bulletin / News Desk
Spain’s King Felipe VI greeted Obama when he arrived late Saturday night.
The American president was scheduled to stay until Monday but made a last-minute change of plans due to the fatal shootings of five police officers at a Black Lives Matters protest in the U.S. city of Dallas.
"We have had a difficult week back in the United States, so my trip is a little abbreviated but I thought it was very important for me to come here, given the extraordinary friendship and alliance between Spain and the US," Obama said in a joint press conference with the king Sunday.
This marks the first time in 15 years a U.S. president has made an official visit to Spain.
Obama also met Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajo and had brief meetings with three other Spanish political leaders. After nearly seven months and two inconclusive elections, Spanish politicians have been unable to form a functioning government.
Obama said no matter which party governs, the countries will continue to be strong allies. Rajoy told the press, as he sat next to Obama, that a third round of Spanish elections would be “a joke.”
On Sunday evening, the president made a visit to an American naval base in Rota, Cadiz, to address thousands of American military personnel and their families. Fresh from the NATO summit in Warsaw, he spoke about the challenges of European uncertainty and the need for a strong alliance against Russian aggression and global terrorism.
“On my visit to Europe what I’ve tried to communicate… is the fact that our commitment will not change. Europe is central to our security, we could not have a more important alliance of friends than those of you here in Europe, and that includes a strong and unified Spain,” he said.
Obama just missed his wife and daughters, who were in Spain earlier this month campaigning for female education. Spanish daily ABC reported his 18-year old daughter Malia, would be spending her “gap year” interning at the American Embassy in Madrid.