MADRID, Oct. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- US ambassador to Spain George Argyros was criticized by the Spanish government on Wednesday for "showing disrespect" after failing to attend Spain's national day celebrations.
"The US ambassador should have participated in the celebrations.His absence from it means he is not willing to share the Spanish people's joy and happiness on that day," Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said.
Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, a spokesman for Spain's ruling Socialist Workers' Party at the House of Representatives, said Argyros' behavior shows that "he looks down upon Spain and the king."
A spokesman for the US embassy to Spain said Ambassador Argyros"did not intend to defy the Spanish government and its king," adding that the ambassador failed to attend the celebrations due to "traffic trouble."
Spanish King Juan Carlos I and all ambassadors to Spain except Argyros attended the Oct. 12 celebrations.
Spanish newspapers reported that Argyros deliberately avoided the festival because of US diplomatic rifts with Spain and reported that the ambassador was on a hunting trip outside Madrid.
Spanish-US relations deteriorated sharply when Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero came to power in April.
Zapatero, who opposed US invasion into Iraq, withdrew all Spanish troops from Iraq soon after his inauguration angering the Bush administration in Washington. Enditem