Spanish king moves to ease tensions with Morocco

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Spain's King Juan Carlos phoned his Moroccan counterpart, Mohammed VI, Wednesday in a bid to calm tense relations between the two neighbours over a number of recent incidents, the royal palace said.

Both noted "the good relations between the two countries" and that "this good atmosphere must not be affected by misunderstandings," a spokesman for the palace said.

"Spain is fully prepared to clarify what has to be clarified," he said.

Morocco last month accused Spanish police of badly injuring five of its citizens trying to enter Spain's North African enclave of Melilla merely for carrying a Moroccan flag.

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

And last week Rabat accused a Spanish civil guard border patrol of abandoning eight sub-Saharan migrants off the Moroccan coast in a critical state of health.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Tuesday also sought ease tensions, saying he was ready "clarify, discuss and inform" about any incidents.

He added that Spanish security forces always act "with the utmost correctness."

The two countries traditionally have close ties but tensions have simmered over Melilla and another Spanish north African enclave, Ceuta, both of which Morocco considers "occupied".

Madrid in May reaffirmed Spanish sovereignty over the two 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 King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia visited Ceuta and Melilla.

© 2010 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • terisa posted:

    on 12th August 2010, 23:58:44 - Reply

    Why is it always the Maroc complaint about the spanish and the spanish never put in complaints about them? one complaint for every illegal attempt to cross the border... G-d knows there is enough to complaint about. How about putting measures in place that keeps his citizens from doing illegal things and bothering these poor boarder patrol. What s wrong about that idea? why are the agressive always complaining about those that are being abused by them? probably because they didnt get away w it.