Madrid, May 17 (EFE).- The King and Queen of Spain on Tuesday officially welcomed the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and his wife, Jawaher bint Hamad bin Suhaim Al Thani, for a two-day state visit as the global energy crisis continues to bite amid the war in Ukraine.
King Felipe VI and Al Thani met Sunday at the El Pardo Palace where the emir and his wife will stay during their visit to Madrid.
It is the first time that Al Thani, 41, has made a state visit to Spain since he came to power in June 2013 after the abdication of his father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
The honors ceremony at the Royal Palace on Monday was attended by the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, minister for foreign affairs José Manuel Albares, congress speaker Meritxell Batet, president of the senate Ander Gil, and the mayor of Madrid José Luis Martínez-Almeida, among others.
The emir’s visit comes amid soaring energy prices fuelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Qatar is one of the world’s largest gas producers and the European Union hopes to increase supplies from the Middle Eastern nation as it weans itself off of Russian gas imports.
Spain’s primary gas suppliers are the United States, Algeria and Nigeria, and, to a lesser extent, Qatar, so the visit is expected to lay the foundations to boost supplies from the Gulf nation.
In a statement published last week, the Qatari foreign ministry hinted that an important announcement on energy matters would be made during the emir’s stay in Madrid.
According to the Spanish government, the high-level visit will boost the bilateral relationship to a strategic level and will serve as a platform to sign various economic, educational, military and health agreements.
After the official reception, King Felipe will meet with Al Thani at the Zarzuela Palace, the headquarters of the Spanish head of state, before a lunch where they will be joined by Queen Letizia and the emir’s wife.
The guests will enjoy a gala dinner at the Royal Palace later on Tuesday evening.
During his stay in Madrid, Al Thani will also meet with Sánchez, visit the Senate, where he will be decorated, and receive the Golden Key of the City of Madrid at the City Hall. EFE