After France, Kadafi arrives in Spain
After leaving France, where he sealed business deals worth billions of dollars, Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi began his first official trip to Spain on Saturday with a private visit to a luxury resort hotel.
Kadafi, who was long a vocal champion of armed struggle and designated by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism, is keen to restore relations with European countries after renouncing terrorism and nuclear weapons.
The Libyan leader and an entourage numbering at least 200 arrived at the Seville airport from France aboard three aircraft and sped away in dozens of cars to the secluded Hacienda La Boticaria hotel, 11 miles southeast of Seville.
During his four-day visit to Spain, Kadafi is expected to meet Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, King Juan Carlos and former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.
Speaking to journalists, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos noted Spain’s important economic interests in Libya, especially in the energy sector.
Kadafi’s visit to France last week set off angry protests. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy defended it, saying it was France’s duty to encourage states that move toward international respectability.
Sarkozy was the first Western leader to invite Kadafi on an official visit. Spain is the second country to do so.
The U.S. resumed full diplomatic relations with Libya last year and removed the nation from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors.