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The Dutch King and Queen will be welcomed in Georgia with a red carpet and will have the chance to perform their dance routines

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The king and queen of the Netherlands were greeted Tuesday by the mayor of Savannah with a red carpet welcome, chatted with crane operators on the dock of one of America's busiest seaports and danced onstage with students from Georgia's oldest historically black college.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima spent the second day of their US tour in Georgia's founding city, which is a tourist magnet due to its rich historical architecture and is becoming a growing force in world trade.

The Dutch royals emerged from their motorcade on Tuesday morning and walked onto a red carpet rolled out across the sidewalk in front of Savannah's gold-domed City Hall, where Mayor Van Johnson greeted them.

“We are so honoured today to have His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen here in our beautiful city,” Johnson said at the start of a roundtable discussion between city staff and Dutch dignitaries. “Today is a day for us to create and talk about opportunities – opportunities we can explore and opportunities we can build on.”

The Dutch royal family's trip to Georgia included a mix of stops at cultural sites and meetings aimed at strengthening economic relations.

In Savannah, the king and queen strolled under majestic Virginia live oaks covered in Spanish moss in the treasured historic district of the city founded by British colonists in 1733. At Savannah State University, Georgia's oldest public college for blacks, the royal couple climbed on stage with students and danced during a brass band performance.

They then toured the Port of Savannah, the fourth-busiest U.S. seaport for cargo shipped in containers. The giant metal boxes are used to transport goods ranging from consumer electronics to frozen chickens. Savannah handled 4.9 million container units in 2023, more than any other U.S. port except New York, Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

The King and Queen chatted with crane operators at the dock as containers were loaded onto a huge cargo ship behind them. They then sat in a shaded tent and reviewed talks held earlier in the day between representatives of Georgia and the Netherlands on ways to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of seaports.

According to the Georgian Ministry of Economic Development, total trade between Georgia and the Netherlands last year amounted to $2.9 billion.

Georgia exported $1.8 billion worth of goods to the Netherlands in 2023, including medical instruments and automatic data processing machines. The state imported $1.2 billion worth of goods from the Netherlands, including aircraft parts and malt beer.

The Dutch royal family's four-day trip to the United States began on Monday in Atlanta, where the king and queen met with Governor Brian Kemp at the Georgia state capitol, visited the gravesite of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and visited a recording studio in a city known for hip-hop artists.

The King and Queen were supposed to spend Wednesday and Thursday in New York at the end of their US tour.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press

Anna Harden

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