Spain's King and Queen arrive for two-day state visit in Vietnam

Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia arrived in Hanoi on Monday to begin a two-day state visit to Vietnam aimed at fostering stronger trade and diplomatic ties.

Accompanied by a senior government delegation, the two were greeted by Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong and his wife during a red-carpet welcome at the Presidential Palace before the two leaders retreated for hourlong private talks.

Afterward, the two sides signed four agreements, on investment promotion and protection, sports cooperation and cooperation between national news agencies VNA and EFE.

Earlier this month, Spain agreed to more than double its development aid to Vietnam over the next three years, increasing aid to US$66 million ( Ђ 55 million).

The king and queen then paid their respects at the martyrs' memorial before heading to Hanoi's historical Temple of Literature.

This is the first visit by the royal couple to the communist country since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1977. Queen Sofia visited Vietnam in 2002.

A state dinner will be followed by a cultural performance for the visiting royalty at the French-designed Hanoi Opera House, reports the AP.

I.L.

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