Spain's foreign minister visits Puerto Rico

San Juan, May 7 (EFE).- Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo will arrive Wednesday in Puerto Rico on a mission to tighten trade links between the Iberian nation and this U.S. commonwealth in the Caribbean.

"This is a very important visit for Puerto Rico, above all with an eye toward the new phase of relations we want to establish, in which we are seeking greater commercial exchange in both directions," the island's secretary of state, David Bernier, told Efe.

He pointed out that the visit is the most important one by a Spanish official since in 1987 King Juan Carlos visited the island accompanied by the then-foreign minister.

Spain and Puerto Rico "have shared a very important cultural and linguistic legacy for centuries," the Spanish consul-general in San Juan, Eduardo Garrigues, told Efe.

Garcia-Margallo will be accompanied by a delegation including Spain's ambassador to the United States, Ramon Gil-Casares, as well as the foreign ministry's top officials for economic affairs and relations with North America, Asia and the Pacific.

Garcia-Margallo's agenda in Puerto Rico will begin with his participation in the Spain-Puerto Rico Business Forum at the Inter American University.

Also participating will be the president of Banco Santander in Puerto Rico, Fredy Molfino; the top executive official of Abertis, Gonzalo Alcalde; and Air Europa's vice president for sales, Pablo Sanchez, whose airline will link Madrid with San Juan with direct flights beginning on May 22.

The Spanish minister is also scheduled to meet with Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla.