Spain’s King Juan Carlos has paid a surprise visit to his troops in Afghanistan. It is extremely rare for heads of state, especially monarchs, to go to war zones, but as Commander-in-Chief, the King was happy to review Spanish soldiers at their base at Herat in western Afghanistan. He also spoke by radio to troops elsewhere in the country, wishing them a good 2008.
The King will turn 70 on Saturday. He paid a similar trip to Spanish troops in Bosnia ten years ago, and to those serving in Kosovo in 2002. Spain has around 700 troops in Afghanistan; more than 20 have been killed on duty.