Spain's Queen Sofia honors Banderas, Hillary Clinton

New York, Nov 20 (EFE).- Spain's Queen Sofia honored compatriot Antonio Banderas and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their contributions to ties between the United States and Spanish-speaking countries.

The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medals were bestowed during a gala in New York hosted by fashion designer Oscar de la Renta and featuring Michael Douglas and Henry Kissinger as presenters.

Sofia hailed Banderas as "a firm defender of the interests of our country and, especially, of the intensification of relations between the United States and Spain."

The queen also praised the actor's extensive philanthropic efforts.

Turning to Hillary Clinton, Sofia had warm words for the former first lady's commitment to Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus' micro-lending initiative, a cause the queen has also embraced.

The queen recalled that she and Clinton presided jointly over the first micro-lending summit in the United States, in 1997.

Guests at the gala included designers Carolina Herrera and Diane von Furstenberg, Spanish Ambassador to the United States Fernando Arias Gonzalez, and model and actress Mar Flores.

Founded in 1954 as the Spanish Institute to promote greater awareness and understanding of the culture of the Spanish-speaking world in the United States, the New York-based organization was renamed in November 2003 for Queen Sofia.