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US reaches out to Latin America – with help from Spain

Ahead of the Summit of the Americas, Spain has been quietly bolstering a common transatlantic agenda.

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As President Barack Obama sets out to renew relations with Latin America, Spain is expected to take on a bigger role by using its back-door diplomatic channels in countries like Venezuela and Cuba.

Spain, considered the second-most influential country in Latin America after the United States, is taking the leading role in developing a common transatlantic agenda – an effort that could advance both nations' shared objectives of drug interdiction, improved human rights, and the fostering democratic institutions, diplomats and analysts say.

The Obama administration, mindful of the recent interest paid to Latin America by China and Russia, has been eager to work with Spain on a new partnership regarding the region, which could have profound effects on US relations with its neighbors in the hemisphere, including the prickly governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, and, to a lesser extent, Ecuador and Argentina.

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