King hails Moroccan help in fight against terrorism

18th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

18 January 2005, RABAT — King Juan Carlos of Spain told the Moroccan parliament he welcomed advances in democracy in Morocco and the country´s help in fighting terrorism.

18 January 2005

RABAT — King Juan Carlos of Spain told the Moroccan parliament he welcomed advances in democracy in Morocco and the country´s help in fighting terrorism.

On the second day of a state visit to Morocco, the Spanish king addressed both houses of the Moroccan Parliament.

It was part of a three-day state visit which started when King Juan Carlos met King Mohamed VI on Monday.

The meeting was hailed in both countries as a major step in renewing old historical ties.

The King also asked Morocco for further help in combating illegal immigration and said he hoped a solution could be found to independence struggle in the Western Sahara.

Earlier, during talks at the royal palace on Monday in Marrakesh, the two kings agreed on measures to tackle clandestine emigration from the country into Spain via the Strait of Gibraltar and the Canary Islands, which lie off Morocco's Atlantic coast.
Juan Carlos had told an official dinner in his honour that he "appreciated the changes that have taken place" in Morocco since Mohammed VI succeeded his late father Hassan II in 1999, giving the example of family law reform "which takes account of protecting the rights of women."

The Moroccan king for his part spoke of the "largely positive record" in relations between the two countries, which made Spain a "privileged economic partner of Morocco".

Much of the Moroccan press has hailed the trip as a "big reunion" to firm up warmer relations after what one paper called "the disagreeable time with the (Jose Maria) Aznar government," referring to the former prime minister ousted in last year's elections in Spain.

Spain and its neighbour on the southern side of the Mediterranean have close and long-standing historical ties, but relations took a serious downturn under the right-wing Aznar, who was replaced by Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Socialism is also a strong force in Moroccan politics and government, but under Hassan II repressive policies long persisted and his regime had an intelligence and secret police service run by hard-line interior ministers who dealt ruthlessly with political opponents and dissidents.

The younger new king has overseen a gradual easing of policies and the introduction of reforms, but the thorniest bone of contention between Morocco and Spain remains the Western Sahara, a phosphate-rich desert territory to the south which Hassan II annexed after Spanish settlers left in 1975.

Polisario Front separatists who then took up arms against Morocco's troops have called on Juan Carlos to help influence Rabat over its claim to sovereignty in the territory.

"Your Majesty must not let the occasion of a state visit to the Moroccan kingdom pass by without, directly or indirectly, ending the deep wound that afflicts the Sahrawi people," wrote Polisario leader Mohamed Abdelaziz.

Abdelaziz, whose movement is backed by neighbouring Algeria, also insisted that "the democratic and economic development of north Africa can only come through the full recognition of its peoples' right to choose their leaders."

The new Spanish government elected last year has gradually stepped back from the position of former administrations, which long supported the territory's right to self-determination in line with a World Court ruling.

Madrid is now seeking to position itself as an impartial mediator, open to discussion on a means finally to settle a long-standing problem.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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