CARTAGENA, Colombia – King Felipe VI was the first head of state attending the 25th Ibero-American Summit to be greeted Friday by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who thanked him for Spain’s support in his country’s peace process with the FARC guerrilla group, and also for the elimination of visas for Colombians visiting Europe.
The two met at noon Friday before the Cartagena summit at the stately home of the Marquis of Valdehoyos, a colonial mansion built in 1765 in the historic center of this Caribbean city, and which in 2015 was renovated by the Foreign Ministry as a lodging for eminent guests.
The Spanish secretary of state for international cooperation and Ibero-America, Jesus Gracia, said after the interview that Santos expressed his thanks to the king for Spain’s support for Colombian interests in international organizations, such as its entry into the OECD, and in particular for its “continued support for the peace process in Colombia.”
In that regard, the Colombian president told Felipe VI of his aim to “keep persevering” with the peace pact with the FARC, something that, according to Gracia, “we hope will be accomplished in the short term.”
For his part, the king conveyed Spanish support for this country’s peace efforts and expressed his gratitude to Colombia for welcoming participants to the Ibero-American Summit.
The peace accord of the Colombian government and the FARC, followed by its rejection by the citizenry in a referendum last Oct. 2, was the subject of the king’s conversation with Santos in a day of intense activity for the Spanish head of state, who afterwards lunched with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The day began for Felipe VI with a meeting with the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, or IDB, at the Santa Clara Hotel, another historic building that in colonial times housed the Convent of the Clarisses, a source of inspiration for the Colombian Nobel laureate in literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Later he visited the historic Santo Domingo Convent, where the Spanish Cooperation Training Center is located, to attend several different events.
First was the awarding of the Enrique V. Iglesias Prize for business development, which went to Peruvian businessman Jose Graña, followed by a meeting of Felipe VI with 22 young university entrepreneurs from the participating countries.
Felipe VI, before meeting with Peña Nieto, had time to see an exhibition about Spanish Admiral Blas de Lezo, hero of the defense of Cartagena against the British siege of 1741.