José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister, spoke during a news conference at the European Union-Latin American summit in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday.

However, and despite progress in trade talks and pledges to strengthen cooperation on issues like and fighting drug trafficking, the E.U.-Latin America summit meeting was far from the showpiece that , the Spanish prime minister, had envisaged.

Earlier this year Mr. Zapatero suffered a rebuff when President decided to call off a planned E.U.-U.S. meeting scheduled to be held in Spain.

The summit meeting with Latin American nations was therefore a rare — and perhaps final — chance for Mr. Zapatero to use Spain’s presidency of the to strengthen his international credentials, especially given the strong ties that still unite Spain with most of its former Latin American colonies. Spain’s rotating presidency of the Union ends next month.

Instead, Mr. Zapatero’s Latin American ambitions have been eclipsed this month by his deepening economic problems, with the Spanish government struggling to contain its ballooning budget deficit and facing an unemployment rate of 20 percent. Spain’s main labor unions plan a strike next month in response to Mr. Zapatero’s latest austerity measures, which include a 5 percent wage cut for civil servants.

“The timing of this summit, just after Spain got told by the U.S. and Europe to take tougher measures to sort out its economy, could not have been more difficult, because to show leadership, you have to be in a position of strength,” said Javier Pastor, a professor of politics at UNED, a Madrid-based university. “I think this is a tough blow for Zapatero because he really hoped to show Spain at its best here.”

The summit meeting did make progress, however, in trade talks that had been stalled because of concerns on both sides that removing tariffs could hurt specific industries, in particular agriculture.

On Monday evening, Mr. Zapatero said that the European Union and the group of countries — Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — would resume free trade talks that could add about €5 billion of exports a year.

However, an E.U.-Mercosur free trade agreement has been under discussion since 1999, with negotiations formally breaking down in 2004. And in a sign that the latest attempt might not fare much better than the previous one, 10 E.U. nations warned in a joint letter last week that they remained opposed to such a deal because “the strategic agricultural interests of the European Union are clearly at stake.”

The European opposition is led by France, which is the main beneficiary of the E.U. farming subsidy system, known as the common agricultural policy. The letter’s other signatories were Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Romania.

Underlining concerns on the Mercosur side, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the Argentine president, said that the negotiations would be difficult because of the “ ” leanings of some European nations.

The Union, however, did reach a separate trade deal with the Central American nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. While that accord is expected to give full and reciprocal access to industrial products, it had also been held up by worries over agriculture, with the two sides ultimately agreeing to set specific quotas for cheese and milk powder from Europe and for bananas, beef and rice from Central America.

Among discordant voices on Tuesday, Ms. Kirchner used the meeting to demand that European countries not close their doors to Latin American immigrants because of their economic difficulties. She also started a bilateral spat by calling on Britain to resume negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, the disputed South Atlantic islands, a suggestion that was immediately rejected by the British government.

The meeting was somewhat tainted even before its start by a dispute over the planned attendance of , the president of Honduras. Brazil and others threatened to cancel their Madrid trip if Mr. Lobo attended because his election followed a Honduran military coup last year. Mr. Zapatero was forced into a compromise, with Mr. Lobo not invited for the main session on Tuesday. Still, a handful of Latin American leaders did not attend, including of Venezuela.

On the European side, , the newly elected British prime minister, was among absentees, while Chancellor of Germany left Madrid after the opening dinner Monday.

“This was the only opportunity to have a triumph for the Spanish presidency, and instead this has been a summit full of intentions and with few results, as well as some distracting issues such as the question of Argentina’s claims over the Malvinas,” or the Falklands, said Antonio Szigriszt Laca, foreign editor of Spanish national radio.

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MADRID — , president of the , on Tuesday closed a meeting here between European and Latin American leaders by saluting the fact that Spain, the host nation, had made “every effort for this success.”

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister, spoke during a news conference at the European Union-Latin American summit in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday.

However, and despite progress in trade talks and pledges to strengthen cooperation on issues like and fighting drug trafficking, the E.U.-Latin America summit meeting was far from the showpiece that , the Spanish prime minister, had envisaged.

Earlier this year Mr. Zapatero suffered a rebuff when President decided to call off a planned E.U.-U.S. meeting scheduled to be held in Spain.

The summit meeting with Latin American nations was therefore a rare — and perhaps final — chance for Mr. Zapatero to use Spain’s presidency of the to strengthen his international credentials, especially given the strong ties that still unite Spain with most of its former Latin American colonies. Spain’s rotating presidency of the Union ends next month.

Instead, Mr. Zapatero’s Latin American ambitions have been eclipsed this month by his deepening economic problems, with the Spanish government struggling to contain its ballooning budget deficit and facing an unemployment rate of 20 percent. Spain’s main labor unions plan a strike next month in response to Mr. Zapatero’s latest austerity measures, which include a 5 percent wage cut for civil servants.

“The timing of this summit, just after Spain got told by the U.S. and Europe to take tougher measures to sort out its economy, could not have been more difficult, because to show leadership, you have to be in a position of strength,” said Javier Pastor, a professor of politics at UNED, a Madrid-based university. “I think this is a tough blow for Zapatero because he really hoped to show Spain at its best here.”

The summit meeting did make progress, however, in trade talks that had been stalled because of concerns on both sides that removing tariffs could hurt specific industries, in particular agriculture.

On Monday evening, Mr. Zapatero said that the European Union and the group of countries — Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — would resume free trade talks that could add about €5 billion of exports a year.

However, an E.U.-Mercosur free trade agreement has been under discussion since 1999, with negotiations formally breaking down in 2004. And in a sign that the latest attempt might not fare much better than the previous one, 10 E.U. nations warned in a joint letter last week that they remained opposed to such a deal because “the strategic agricultural interests of the European Union are clearly at stake.”

The European opposition is led by France, which is the main beneficiary of the E.U. farming subsidy system, known as the common agricultural policy. The letter’s other signatories were Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Romania.

Underlining concerns on the Mercosur side, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the Argentine president, said that the negotiations would be difficult because of the “ ” leanings of some European nations.

The Union, however, did reach a separate trade deal with the Central American nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. While that accord is expected to give full and reciprocal access to industrial products, it had also been held up by worries over agriculture, with the two sides ultimately agreeing to set specific quotas for cheese and milk powder from Europe and for bananas, beef and rice from Central America.

Among discordant voices on Tuesday, Ms. Kirchner used the meeting to demand that European countries not close their doors to Latin American immigrants because of their economic difficulties. She also started a bilateral spat by calling on Britain to resume negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, the disputed South Atlantic islands, a suggestion that was immediately rejected by the British government.

The meeting was somewhat tainted even before its start by a dispute over the planned attendance of , the president of Honduras. Brazil and others threatened to cancel their Madrid trip if Mr. Lobo attended because his election followed a Honduran military coup last year. Mr. Zapatero was forced into a compromise, with Mr. Lobo not invited for the main session on Tuesday. Still, a handful of Latin American leaders did not attend, including of Venezuela.

On the European side, , the newly elected British prime minister, was among absentees, while Chancellor of Germany left Madrid after the opening dinner Monday.

“This was the only opportunity to have a triumph for the Spanish presidency, and instead this has been a summit full of intentions and with few results, as well as some distracting issues such as the question of Argentina’s claims over the Malvinas,” or the Falklands, said Antonio Szigriszt Laca, foreign editor of Spanish national radio.

A Room for Debate forum on what the decision banning life without parole for juveniles says about the Supreme Court.

Stanley Fish on a new Arizona education bill that presents a clash between two bad paradigms.

Read the article on New York Times

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