Spain, Morocco agree train tunnel linking countries
7 March 2007, RABAT - Spain and Morocco announced their joint commitment to link their two countries by building a train tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar.
7 March 2007
RABAT - Spain and Morocco announced their joint commitment to link their two countries by building a train tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he was "firmly decided" upon making the tunnel a reality, but he demanded the financial help of the European Union since it is an intercontinental project that would contribute to "growth, development and well-being" on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea.
Meanwhile, the meeting marked, in the words of Moroccan Premier Driss Jettou, "an important milestone" in the good relations between Rabat and Madrid.
The positive atmosphere also was reflected in the meeting between King Mohammed VI and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, during which the monarch proposed creating a permanent bilateral working group on immigration that would be headed by the respective interior ministers.
The two governments also signed an accord to facilitate the repatriation of unaccompanied minors.
The agreement establishes that Spain will finance the measures to protect and transport the minors and will help prevent emigration by fostering the development of Moroccan regions with strong migratory potential.
Zapatero emphasised that the flood of illegal immigration from the North African kingdom fell by 60 percent during 2006, at the same time that the number of Moroccan workers with labor contracts rose.
In the economic area, Spain granted two EUR 100 million (USD 131.2m) loans to construct a wind-power generation park and a thermo-solar center, both to be built by Spanish firms.
Earlier Tuesday, Zapatero said that Morocco's proposal to grant autonomy to the disputed Western Sahara region is a "good opportunity" to revive the dialogue between the parties and achieve a definitive solution.
The Spanish premier expressed Madrid's "constructive" willingness to facilitate negotiations on the Moroccan plan, which grants broad autonomy to the Saharawi people but rules out any move for independence, which has prompted the Polisario Front to reject Rabat's proposal.
"Is it a good opportunity? I think so," said Zapatero, who insisted on the need to open a "fluid, open, frank and reliable" dialogue as soon as possible.
He expressed his "respect" for the agreements adopted by the United Nations on this contentious issue after he was asked if Spain would continue to defend the resolutions in which the right of the Saharawis to decide their own future is recognised.
The Spanish leader said that the current situation of paralysis "is not good for anyone," while a mutually acceptable resolution of the problem after 30 years of conflict "would benefit everyone, the Sahara, Morocco and the Maghreb."
Morocco occupied the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and is determined to annex the territory, while the Algerian-backed Polisario demands independence for the region.
Jettou said that the initiative launched by his government, which will be presented to the United Nations in April, is aimed at safeguarding the "unity" and the sovereignty of Morocco over "its Sahara."
At the press conference, both men were asked by reporters about the petition for Spain's National Court to investigate 32 high-ranking Moroccan officials for acts of mass murder carried out in Western Sahara over the last three decades.
The request was filed by associations supporting the Saharawis.
Zapatero expressed his respect for the actions of the justice system, but he said he was surprised that the information emerged publicly on Tuesday "in a casual manner" when the matter had been "known about since December."
Jettou denied the involvement of some of the people whose names appear on the complaint.
The Moroccan premier said he agreed with the principle of "respect for the law," adding that his country "will not defend anyone who has abused power, whether inside or outside of Morocco."
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news