Spanish, Moroccan ministers to meet after enclave protest

14th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba is to meet his Moroccan counterpart after a protest against alleged abuse by Spanish police at two enclaves in the North African country.

Rubalcaba's talks with Taieb Cherkaoui will be held on Monday and will focus on "police cooperation, the fight against terror and illegal immigration as well as other shared issues", the interior ministry said in a statement.

The meeting comes after Moroccan demonstrators on Thursday blocked trucks transporting fresh food from entering Spain's North African enclave of Melilla to protest alleged abuse by Spanish police.

The demonstrators were angry over recent alleged incidents, including beatings, by Spanish police against Moroccan nationals at the border posts of Melilla and Spain's other disputed North African enclave of Ceuta.

Morocco last month accused Spanish police of badly injuring five of its citizens trying to enter Melilla by beating them for carrying a Moroccan flag.

On August 2 the Moroccan government protested to Madrid over what it said was "violence" inflicted by Spanish police on a Moroccan student at the Melilla border post.

Spain's King Juan Carlos phoned his Moroccan counterpart, Mohammed VI, on Wednesday in a bid to ease the tense relations between the neighbours.

The two countries traditionally have close ties but tensions have simmered over Melilla and Ceuta, on the north coast of North Africa bordering Morocco.

Madrid in May reaffirmed Spanish sovereignty over the two tiny enclaves after the Moroccan government called for a dialogue on the matter.

A low point in Spanish-Moroccan relations was a dispute in 2002 when Spanish troops expelled a group of Moroccan soldiers from the disputed Mediterranean islet of Perjil.

Tensions again rose in November 2007 when Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia visited Ceuta and Melilla.

© 2010 AFP

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