Spanish Royals Visit Trinidad to Ensure Supply of Natural Gas

Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia traveled to Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, urging a deepening of relations between the two countries.

The Spanish royal couple were welcomed by Prime Minister Patrick Manning and members of his Cabinet in Port-of-Spain, where they inspected an honor guard, viewed some Carnival traditions, and greeted onlookers.

In an afternoon address to parliament, King Carlos noted that the two countries have had diplomatic relations for nearly 40 years and that Trinidad is now the fifth-largest supplier of natural gas to Spain.

But he told legislators that the economic and trading relations between Spain and energy-rich Trinidad and Tobago will need to be rebalanced as the twin-island nation seeks to diversify its economy. He said that Spain was prepared to help develop tourism and transportation in the islands.

Trinidad's senate president, Danny Montano, spoke of the historical significance of the royal visit, reminding legislators that it was taking place two days before the 212th anniversary of Spain's decision to surrender the island to Britain.

"Spain may have left our shores in 1897 ... but its influences remain," Montano said.

The royal couple are expected to travel to Jamaica on Tuesday.