WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says unemployment and economic growth remain enormous challenges for Spain and other European countries.
Obama spoke in the Oval Office after meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (mah-ree-AH'-noh rah-HOY'). Obama says the U.S. is more optimistic about Europe's prospects than a year ago.
Obama is praising difficult structural reforms Spain has undertaken as necessary precursors to growth. He says those steps are never the most politically popular, but they're necessary.
Rajoy says those reforms required effort by people in Spain, where more than one in four are jobless. He says he's confident Spaniards understand the effort has been necessary.
Obama and Rajoy say a trade agreement the U.S. and the EU are negotiating offers major growth opportunities. The two leaders are also pledging deeper security cooperation.