EU calls off entire summit because Obama won't attend

President Barack Obama's plan to skip a European Union-U.S. summit in May has led EU leaders to scrap the summit altogether.

The White House signaled this week that Obama was not going to attend the meeting, which was intended to be a highlight of Spain's six-month hold on the rotating EU presidency.

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"The president is committed to a strong U.S.-EU partnership, and with Europe in general," White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said. "There were no plans for the president to travel to Spain for a summit this spring."

Spain claims that it was only through these media reports that it found out Obama would not be attending the Madrid meeting, which was intended to cover a wide range of issues including foreign affairs, climate change, Iran's nuclear program, success in Afghanistan, and the global economic crisis.

And now, it appears, the entire summit is off.

"If there is no Obama, there is no summit," one EU envoy said, according to Reuters. The wire service added that White House officials pointed out that Obama has visited Europe six times in the past year, and is under pressure to tend to political matters stateside.

But not all in Europe are being understanding about the perceived snub. "He does not always seem as interested in Europe as Europe is in the United States," Reuters quoted an EU diplomat as saying.

Spanish newspaper El Pais complained in an editorial Wednesday that Obama's passing the country over signaled a change in Washington priorities and marginalized the EU. BBC reported that "in Brussels there is growing concern that President Obama is taking Europe for granted and focusing instead on China and Russia."

Incidentally, the diplomatic row comes just as Spanish Prime Minister Jose-Luis Zapatero is in Washington to co-keynote the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning with Obama.