Spain's King Juan Carlos arrived Wednesday in the Russian capital on a state visit chiefly focused on the economy and trade, during which he will also receive the State Prize of the Russian Federation for his role in the Spanish transition from dictatorship to democracy.
The Spanish air force plane carrying the monarch landed at Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport at around 5:30 p.m.
Besides Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo and Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria, the Spanish delegation includes a dozen top executives from such companies as OHL, FCC, Indra, Talgo, Iberdrola and Tecnicas Reunidas.
In a statement to the press aboard the aircraft, the king said that the solution for Spanish companies stuggling with recession at home is to "export, export and export."
Spanish businessmen hope to take part in the Russian government's ambitious plans to modernize infrastructure and transportation, particularly seeking a role in the construction and management of a high-speed passenger rail service between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The project will have an estimated investment of some 17.4 billion euros ($21.3 billion), almost triple the value of the contract for a high-speed railroad in Saudi Arabia recently landed by a Spanish consortium.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy seeks to use Juan Carlos's "excellent" relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin to boost trade between the two countries, according to Spain's foreign ministry.
The state visit as such will commence early Thursday when the king meets with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobianin, followed by talks with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.
The monarch will then proceed to the Kremlin, where he will receive from Putin the State Prize of the Russian Federation for his "humanist activities" and his role in Spain's post-Franco transition to democracy. EFE