This morning, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman embarked on a three day state visit to Spain. The visit is meant to boost ties between the two nations. This the first time Lebanon has had a state visit to Spain since 1957.
The President and his wife, Wafah, were greeted by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at the El Pardo Palace in Madrid. After an official welcoming ceremony, the Suleimans went to have lunch with the King and Queen, as well as Crown Prince Felipe and Crown Princess Letizia at Zarzuela Palace.
In the evening, there will be a gala dinner in honor of the Lebanese President and First Lady at the Royal Palace.
Over the next two days, President Suleiman will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who just completed a tour of the Middle East last week. Meanwhile, his wife will be with Queen Sofia as they tour the Alzheimer Center of Queen Sofia Foundation.
Another big dinner will be held Tuesday night, this time hosted by the Lebanese President in honor of Spain’s King and Queen.
Wednesday morning will see the end of this state visit.
According the Suleiman, a state visit to Spain could not have come at better time. He told Spanish Parliament that with Lebanon being a part of the UN Security Council, and Spain having the EU presidency in early 2010, cooperation and dialogue may be easier. At the same time, Spain has nearly 1,000 troops in Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Forces in Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL).