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King Felipe holds first meeting with Obama since accession to throne

Spanish monarch also made address about climate change at United Nations in New York

Felipe VI and Barack Obama shake hands in New York.
Felipe VI and Barack Obama shake hands in New York. EFE

Spain’s King Felipe VI has delivered his first international address since his accession to the Spanish throne, speaking about climate change at the United Nations in New York.

The new Spanish monarch also met privately with US President Barack Obama for half-an-hour, and reiterated his desire for both countries to keep working together on the “international challenges” facing them. Obama underscored the monarch’s role in the “close ties” between the US and Spain, according to US government sources.

Felipe VI and Obama met at the Waldorf Astoria, where the US president was staying to attend the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations.

It was a first contact and a show of deference by President Obama,” said a Spanish official

The conversation touched on politics, international conflicts, economics and culture, US sources said.

“It was a first contact and a show of deference by President Obama,” said a Spanish official, noting that the US president will be meeting with very few world leaders at this summit.

The meeting confirmed Obama’s interest in working with the new head of state of an allied country at a particularly difficult time, filled with challenges such as the Islamic State’s terrorist threat, the tension with Russia over Ukraine, the ebola health crisis and climate change.

It is truly an honor for me to speak for the first time as King of Spain at the UN”

King Felipe

Earlier, at UN headquarters, Felipe VI delivered a speech focused on the urgency of implementing measures to fight climate change.

“The common challenge represented by climate change has acquired greater urgency,” he told the assembled representatives. “It poses a threat to the basic equilibrium that makes life possible and gives continuity to our civilization, and this forces us to act decisively.”

Felipe also commented on the fact that this was his first speech at an international venue.

“It is truly an honor for me to speak for the first time as King of Spain at the United Nations,” he said. “I belong to a generation that was inspired by the sight of a small, blue, fragile-looking planet in a picture taken by the pioneers of the space race. The impact of that first vision of Earth from outer space made us understand that, above and beyond our differences, we share the same home and face common challenges.”

Spain is also vying for a seat at the UN Security Council for 2015 and 2016. The decision will be made in October, and Felipe VI has been working up support for the Spanish candidacy while in New York, official sources said.