Spain's popular King Juan Carlos has made a personal commitment to "move forward decisively" the Indo-Spanish relations, telling visiting President Pratiba Patil "you can count on me."
Welcoming Patil, the first head of the state from India to visit Spain, Carlos said: "Your visit today brings India closer than ever to the hearts of Spaniards." "You can count on me and on our authorities to move forward decisively in Spanish-Indian relations, an objective we all aspire to as a result of your state visit to Spain," he said at the State Banquet here, also attended by Queen Sophia and the President's husband, Devi Singh Shekhawat.
The King said Patil's presence in his country underlined the "growing friendship uniting Spain and India, a great country for which we feel enormous admiration and respect."
The King said India and Spain share a strong commitment to the defence of democratic principles and to international peace and cooperation.
Referring to the common challenges like terrorism, he said the "harsh experience acquired by India and Spain drives us to join forces to those ends."
Condemning the Mumbai terror attacks as "terrible and cruel," the King said it emphasised the need to cooperate more closely at the multilateral level to end the barbarity of terrorism and its assault on people's most fundamental rights.
Responding warmly to the King's remarks, President Patil said both India and Spain share the common goal of fighting terrorism. "An important area of congruence in our approach is the fight against terrorism. Terrorism is a scourge that both Spain and India face. Spain's messages of solidarity and support after the Mumbai attacks were heartfelt and sincere, and we appreciate them," she said.
Turning to bilateral trade ties, the President, who is here on a three-day visit, said India values the interest shown by Spanish business and industry in it. "Indian investors are looking at Spain and at the same time we would like India to be an investment destination for Spanish investors," Patil said, adding that there are many other areas of cooperation like renewable energy, agriculture and tourism waiting to be tapped for the mutual benefit.
She said India particularly looks forward to the European Union presidency of Spain during the first half of 2010 and hopes that its strategic partnership with the 27-member bloc would further strengthen during this period. "India looks at Spain as a friend. We seek to strengthen the bridges of friendship. There is potential for enhancing our relations in a wide range of fields and it is time to realise the concrete possibilities that exist between our countries," Patil said.
She also extended an invitation to the royal couple to visit India at "an early date". The King and Queen had earlier visited India in 1982.