Spanish PM Rajoy meets Donald Trump in Washington days before illegal referendum

Mariano Rajoy touches down in the USA

SPAIN’S Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, is set to meet US President Donald Trump at the White House today (Tuesday) while his team in Madrid continue to try to thwart Catalan attempts to hold an independence referendum.

Rajoy will visit the White House just five days before the vote is scheduled to go ahead, and following his decision to take control of Cataluña’s finances and arrest several officials involved with organising the referendum.

The situation in Catalonia is of interest to the US as American companies such as DowDuPont Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. have operations in the region and are some of the largest foreign investors in Spain. The US is also the largest importer of Spanish goods outside the EU.

The Spanish prime minister and the US president will sit down for a working lunch then hold a joint press conference at 1.45pm Eastern Time. Rajoy will then return to Spain, and is scheduled to arrive back on Wednesday morning.

The two leaders are set to discuss topics such as Spain’s role in the European Union and its commitment to NATO. Trump is pushing for European leaders to increase their spending on defence by at least 2 per cent; while Spain’s current defence budget is less than half the NATO-pledged level.

The situation in Catalonia is not on the agenda, according to a Spanish official. 

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