Spanish king makes state visit

King Juan Carlos I (left) welcomed by this year's Swiss president, Micheline Calmy-Rey (right) at Zurich airport Keystone

Spain’s King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia have begun a two-day official trip to Switzerland – the king’s first state visit since 1979.

This content was published on May 12, 2011 - 17:05 and agencies

After a formal reception at a Swiss government house on the outskirts of the capital, Bern, the royal couple were taken to the parliament buildings.

Talks between this year’s Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey and Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jiménez – who is accompanying the king and queen – were also on the agenda.

At a press conference on Thursday, the king said relations between Switzerland and Spain had gone through an "extraordinary evolution" since 1979, now with greater cooperation and "common values".

Calmy-Rey thanked Spain for its help during a diplomatic row with Libya, saying it contributed to the successful release of Swiss hostages.  

On Friday there is a scheduled meeting with captains of Swiss industry. The royal couple are also expected to visit Lausanne, and meet representatives of Switzerland’s Spanish community. More than 90,000 Spanish expatriates reside in the country.

A young Juan Carlos spent a few years with his family in exile in Lausanne and a few months at a school in Fribourg. He proposed to Sofia in 1962 in Lausanne.

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