by RAY FLEMING
SPAIN has the fifth largest economy in the European Union and the eighth largest in the world. But, as matters stand at the moment, Spain will not be among the countries invited to attend the G20 meeting in Washington on 17 November to discuss measures and reforms necessary to prevent a repeat of last month's Wall Street crash and its global consequences. In a meeting last week, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Spanish Foreign Minister Angel Moratinos that Spain's exclusion had nothing to do with its withdrawal of troops from Iraq, long a sore point with the Bush administration, adding that a line on the numbers invited had to be drawn somewhere. Diplomatically speaking, Dr Rice's assurance may have been accepted but many will see Spain's exclusion as a typical Bush snub to someone who doesn't act as he wants. The European Commission, Britain and France have all made it known that they believe Spain should be at the table. No doubt Dr Rice's attention has been drawn to a recent Financial Times rating of the Bank of Spain as the best-placed regulator to weather current financial turbulence. It is still not clear why the United States, with a lame duck president for the next ten weeks, should be hosting and managing this important meeting on 17 November -- unless it is to ensure that the proposals under discussion are all to America's liking.

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