25 FEBRUARY 2005

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The friendly relations between Spain and her southern neighbours are obviously going from strength to strength, with Queen Sofia paying her second visit to Morocco in under a month. King Mohammed's wife, Princess Lalla Salma, warmly embraced her European visitor when she arrived at Tetouan Airport on Thursday afternoon.

Later that day the red-haired princess, dressed in a spectacular silver kaftan with ornate detailing, hosted a lavish dinner in honour of her guest. And the fact she has taken charge of such a high-profile event is just further evidence of the Moroccan royal household's determination to modernise.

The 26-year-old, who married King Mohammed in 2002, is the first wife of a Moroccan monarch to be photographed or seen publicly. A qualified computer engineer, she has taken centre stage at numerous official functions, including last year's visit from the Belgian royals.

The North African country has not always enjoyed such strong ties with Spain, however. Indeed the visit made by King Juan Carlos and his wife just a few weeks ago was the first in over 25 years. On that occasion Sofia had hoped to visit the historic city of Tetouan, but in the end there wasn't time in her hectic schedule.

Lalla Salma wasn't about to let her friend go disapponted, though, so the two women arranged to meet up again this week. And it seems the two countries are set to take their friendship one step further, as Spanish and Moroccan politicians are currently hammering out plans to build a tunnel under the Straits of Gibraltar.

  • /2005/02/25/lallasalma

Lalla Salma opted for a spectacular silver kaftan when she hosted a dinner for her northern neighbour later that evening
Photo: AFP
Click on photos for gallery

The former IT expert chats with her royal guest in Tetouan's royal palace. Just a few weeks have passed since they last met up in Marrakech
Photo: AFP



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