Spanish guitar, but no debt relief, for Arias in Spain

September 12, 2008

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is set to come home this afternoon from his official Spain visit with a shiny new Spanish guitar, but without achieving a prime item on his agenda: convincing the old country of flamenco to pardon his nation´s $56 million debt.

The president´s guitar came as a show of brotherhood from the Spanish Confederation of Corporate Organizations, reported news agency EFE.

He failed, however, to strike the right chord when it came to debt cancelation, newswire DPA reported. That issue was among Arias´ main talking points in Spain, Casa Presidencial press officer Esteban Arrieta told The Tico Times.

Arias has previously acknowledged that Spain doesn´t consider Costa Rica eligible for debt relief because the Central American nation has achieved a relative level of development compared with other countries in greater need of aid, according to DPA.

But Arias´ recent call in Brussels for Europe to take swift action toward a European-Central American trade partnership agreement seemed to echo in Madrid yesterday. After a meeting between him and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain´s leader showed support for the pending partnership.

“Central America is doing its job, it´s meeting its commitments, and Spain agrees that the European Union needs to do the job it´s been tasked with and make that agreement happen,” Zapatero said, according to news agency AFP.

For Arias, Spain is “the entryway to Europe,” the Costa Rican leader said, according to AFP.

Arias´ Spain tour has also included a 30-minute sit-down with King Juan Carlos and a trip to southern Spain. Discussion themes have ranged from the purchase of Spanish train wagons to immigration, international weapons trade and the peace-oriented Costa Rica Consensus, Arrieta, his press officer, said.

Newswires EFE, AFP and DPA contributed to this report.

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