Photo: Pool Moncloa/Diego Crespo
The Diplomat. 16/10/2017
The visit made on 26 September by Mariano Rajoy to the White House, where he met Donald Trump, has been the fourteenth made by a Spanish president of Government since the start of the Transition.
According to a report drawn up by The Hispanic Council from journalistic information of both countries, all the heads of the Spanish Executive have been received at the Oval Office of the White House since 1977, except for Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo.
In April 1977, at the beginning of the Transition, Adolfo Suárez became the first president in the history of Spain to officially visit the US. Both in that visit and in the one he made in January 1980, he was received at the White House by President James Carter.
Felipe González visited the US on six occasions, including four visits to the White House in which he was received by three different presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
His first meeting with Reagan in Washington, on 21 June 1983, awoke great interest all over Europe for being a socialist president elected democratically. The meeting served to address, among other issues, Spain’s membership of NATO. González was received in October 1989 and April 1992 by Bush and in December 1993 by Clinton.
The record holder is Aznar, who visited the Oval Office five times, four of them with George W. Bush
The absolute record holder is José María Aznar, who did not only travelled on ten occasions to the US, but also became personal and political friends with President George W. Bush, with whom he met four of the five times he visited the White House (the first visit was a meeting with Clinton in April 1999).
The first meeting with Bush took place in November 2001, shortly after the attacks of 11-S. Furthermore, Aznar was received by the North American leader on another three occasions: December 2002, May 2003 and January 2004.
A turning point was the decision made by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of withdrawing the troops from Iraq, which meant the cooling of bilateral relations. Zapatero is the only Spanish president that only visited the White House once and he did it on 13 October 2009, when the president was Barack Obama, in a meeting marked by the economy at the start of the economic crisis.
Mariano Rajoy, whose first mandate was mainly aimed at domestic and economic matters, recovered the international agenda in January 2014 with a meeting with Obama at the White House.