Morocco calls in Spanish envoy over 'false' media reports

31st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Morocco summoned Spain's ambassador to protest Spanish media reports that its troops had been redeployed in case of protests like those in nearby Tunisia, a government spokesman said Sunday.

"The government of the Kingdom of Morocco issued a categorical denial to these false statements...," said Communications Minister and government spokesman Khalid Naciri.

He underlined the government's "indignation" at the reports put out by state television channel Canal 24 and other Spanish news media.

The reports that Moroccan troops normally based in the south had been moved towards Casablanca and the capital Rabat, both on the country's northern coastline, were "unfounded allegations", he insisted.

Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Firhi had summoned the Spanish ambassador and phoned his Spanish counterpart Trinidad Jimenez to express the indignation of the Moroccan authorities, Naciri added.

Relations are already tense between the two countries.

In early December, Morocco announced a review of its ties with Spain after Spanish deputies called on the Socialist government to condemn deadly clashes in the disputed Western Sahara.

Spanish deputies want the mandate of the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to include human rights monitoring, which Morocco has rejected.

It has also rejected any UN enquiry into November 8 clashes when Moroccan security forces stormed and dismantled a camp in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.

Morocco said 13 people died in the clashes, of whom 11 were state security forces. The Algerian-backed Polisario Front, which is fighting for an independent Western Sahara, says the death toll ran into "dozens."

© 2011 AFP

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