Spain's king thanks Uruguay for generosity to Spanish expats

Madrid, May 29 (EFE).- Spain's King Juan Carlos thanked visiting Uruguayan President Jose Mujica here Wednesday for the generosity and hospitality of his country to Spanish expats seeking "broader horizons and opportunities."

After meeting with Mujica in his office, the king, accompanied by Queen Sofia, Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, offered a dinner in honor of the Uruguayan leader in the Audience Hall at Zarzuela Palace, an event attended by about 50 invited guests.

In the toast, Juan Carlos said that despite the current economic crisis, Spain wants to continue being the No. 2 foreign investor in Latin America.

The presence of many Spanish companies in Uruguay makes the country's economy more dynamic, contributes wealth and represents a total investment of more than $3 billion, the king said.

This business participation comes in addition "to the effort and the contribution" of not a few Spaniards who have opted to emigrate to the South American country, he added.

Juan Carlos also stressed that the two nations share "solid democratic values" and a firm commitment to freedom and justice.

In an improvised address, Mujica had words of praise for the Spaniards who have come - and are coming - to work in Uruguay.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his wife, Elvira Fernandez, headed the government delegation at the dinner.

Also present were the presidents of Spanish corporate giants such as Telefonica, Globalia, Isolux, Indra, Enagas, Grupo Villar-Mir, Mapfre, Abengoa and ACS Servicios Industriales, as well as the presidents of Agencia EFE and RTVE, the director of the Cervantes Institute and designer Purificacion Garcia.

Mujica met earlier Wednesday with Spanish executives to urge them to invest in his country.

Spain is one of the largest investors in Uruguay and has a presence there by way of firms such as Santander, BBVA bank, insurer Mapfre, Telefonica, Planeta publishers, Santillana and Zara.

In 2012, Spanish exports to Uruguay totaled 167 million euros ($215 million), an increase of 8.8 percent over 2011, whereas Uruguayan exports to Spain amounted to 113 million euros ($146 million), a drop of 35.4 percent compared to the year before.