Spain and Morocco expected to end diplomatic crisis

4th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Morocco was Friday expected to shortly send its ambassador back to Spain in an end to a two-month diplomatic crisis.

4 January 2008

MADRID - Morocco was Friday expected to shortly send its ambassador back to Spain in an end to a two-month diplomatic crisis, Spanish media reported.

King Mohammed VI was expected to order the return to Madrid of ambassador Omar Azziman, who was recalled for consultations over Spanish King Juan Carlos' visit to the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the north African coast, which are claimed by Morocco.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos visited Rabat on Thursday, handing his counterpart Taieb Fassi-Fihri a letter from Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to King Mohammed.

The contents of the letter were not officially disclosed, but it reportedly stressed the importance of Morocco for Spain, and expressed the wish to boost relations.

Spain expected the gesture to satisfy Morocco, which saw the king's visit to the "occupied" cities of Ceuta and Melilla as a provocation.

The Spanish government, which saw Juan Carlos' first visit as king to the enclaves as long overdue, is now seeking to put the conflict over Ceuta and Melilla on the back burner.

Morocco has also been annoyed by the decision of a Spanish judge to investigate an alleged genocide of Western Saharawis by Moroccan security forces.

Generally, however, Spain's relations with its southern neighbour have improved under Zapatero's Socialist government.

The previous conservative government headed by Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar came close to a military conflict with Morocco over the uninhabited islet of Perejil, also known as Leilah, from where Spain ousted a group of Moroccan gendarmes.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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