South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) receives a golden key as a gift from Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida during his visit to City Hall on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
MADRID -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a "golden key" from Spain on Tuesday, as he expressed hope that it would bring big luck to the Korean Peninsula.
He also said that he would open the door of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic with the key.
The president was given the gift by the mayor of Madrid, Jose Luis Mart?nez-Almeida, during a visit to City Hall in accordance with a longtime tradition for a foreign state guest in Spain.
The mayor said the key means that the door of Madrid is always open, stressing the importance of bilateral exchanges.
Moon then attended a welcoming dinner hosted by King Felipe VI. He pointed out that South Korea and Spain are similar to each other in that their people have achieved economic development and democratization.
The president expressed hope that the two nations will cooperate on such common tasks as responding to the fourth industrial era and attaining green growth.
Soon after touching down at the Barajas international airport in the Spanish capital earlier in the day, he headed to the royal palace together with first lady Kim Jung-sook. Moon and Felipe met each other for the first time since the king's trip to South Korea in October 2019 along with Queen Letizia.
South Korea's national anthem was played followed by a 21-gun salute during the ceremony. The two sides also exchanged medals of honor.
Moon became the first South Korean leader to make a state visit to Spain in 14 years.
On Wednesday, he is scheduled to hold summit talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on upgrading bilateral ties, especially expanding economic partnerships.
Moon will fly to Barcelona later in the day to join an annual business leaders' forum.
Spain is the last leg of his weeklong Europe tour that also took him to Britain and Austria. (Joint Press Corps)