Spanish PM to speak at prayer breakfast in Washington: reports
(MADRID) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will visit Washington next month to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast event at the invitation of US President Barack Obama, Spanish media said Thursday.
It said Zapatero, whose country holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, has been keen to meet with Obama prior to a EU-US summit scheduled for May 24-25 in Madrid, the media said, quoting sources at the prime minister's office.
The National Prayer Breakfast is an annual event held on the first Thursday of every February since 1953 on behalf of the Fellowship Foundation, a conservative Christian organisation, as a forum for world political, social and business leaders.
Zapatero's attendance at the February 4 event will mark his second visit to the United States since taking office in 2004, after meeting with Obama there on October 13.
Asked about it during a press conference in Bratislava with his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico, he said America's "democratic greatness" meant that "people of different persuasions" have been invited to the forum.
Previous speakers have included former British prime minister Tony Blair, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, King Abdullah of Jordan, the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the singer and social activist Bono.
Relations turned sour between the two countries in 2004 when Zapatero angered Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, by carrying out an election promise to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said on Monday that a May summit in Madrid would be a chance to forge a new EU-US "relationship of trust, complicity, complementarity on the themes of security, economy, trade, transport and development cooperation".