MADRID -- Canadian-Spanish relations will improve as the two governments resolve their historical disputes -- notably the disagreement over Spanish fishing on the Grand Banks, leaders of both countries said Monday.
During the first visit by a Canadian leader to Spain, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said closer links would develop through shared views on the international economy and defence.
Speaking in Spanish, English and French, Trudeau congratulated Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo for directing Spain towards an open economy with a possible future membership in the European Economic Community.
In toasts at a formal dinner, he welcomed Spain's entry into NATO May 30, and urged support for arms control at a NATO summit in Bonn this week -- the first Spain will attend. Trudeau said he will seek support for his proposal to 'suffocate the arms race' by freezing new systems in the development stage.
Following afternoon meetings with Trudeau, Calvo Sotelo also predicted closer relations but made direct reference to the major point of contention between the two countries.
'One of the areas where cooperation could begin to materialize most effectively is, of course, in fisheries,' he said at the ancient Vianna Palace.
Spain recently broke a five-year deadlock that developed when Canada declared a 200-mile economic zone that restricted Spanish fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds off Newfoundland.
The Spanish government has agreed to comply with fishing limitations set out by the North Atlantic Fishing Organization, if in turn Canada would allow Spanish vessels a quota of the east coast stock.
The agreement would also reopen Spanish markets for Canadian fish processors, which have been closed for the last year.
Calvo Saleto asked Trudeau for early ratification of the agreement in principle.
Earlier, businessmen told Trudeau Canada should actively diversify and spur its trade with Spain rather than limiting it to industries in which Canada is uncompetitive.
In general, commercial relations between Spain and Canada were quite weak, said James Calderon, Royal Bank of Canada senior representative in Spain.
'We look always south and to Europe in general, while Canada-Spain trade has been limited to fishing where we are not competitive,' he said.
'The government should be more active, especially through the Export Development Corp., to promote the technology and financing we could have to assist with sale of Canadian technology.'
Trudeau, making the first visit to Spain by a Canadian prime minister, flew to Madrid from the weekend summit of industrialized powers at Versailles, France. He landed in brilliant sunlight to be welcomed by Spanish Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo in an airport welcome with full honors.
He chatted with businessmen over a two-hour luncheon in Madrid's prestigious Ritz Hotel before leaving for a meeting with Calvo Sotelo.
He briefed the businessmen on the outcome of the Versailles summit, which he earlier described as 'difficult,' and solicited comments on the state of trade with Spain.
'We have very strong prospects for increasing trade with Spain,' said Dudley Eustace, financial director for the fully integrated aluminum processor Endasa, which is owned 50-percent by Alcan and 50-percent by the Spanish government.
'There are not innate difficulties. I think Spain has jumped into a modern industrial society in the last six years and they have a lot of catching up to do. Generally I would like to see more aggressive marketing on the part of Canadians,' Eustace said.
Trudeau was the first NATO leader to visit Spain since Madrid joined the alliance May 30. Trudeau planned the trip as an occasion to discuss Spain's inaugural participation at a NATO meeting in Bonn later this week.
There was speculation Canada and Spain would sign an accord on fishing rights. The issue has been the subject of lengthy negotiations since Canada declared a 200-mile zone for fishing rights in 1977 and which Spain has refused to acknowledge.
Trudeau will also discuss the outcome of the economic summit with government leaders and meet King Juan Carlos before taking a private trip to the old southern town of Granada with his youngest son, Michel, 6.