Morocco, Spain normalize diplomatic ties
Morocco-Spain, Politics, 2/1/2003
Morocco and Spain announced Thursday they are restoring full diplomatic ties with the return of their ambassadors to their respective posts.
The announcement was made following a meeting in the coastal resort of Agadir between King Mohammed VI and Spanish foreign minister, Ana Palacio.
Morocco had called back in October 2001 "for consultation" its ambassador in Spain following a series of Spanish hostile attitudes toward Morocco. Relations between the two countries were also tense since Morocco refused to renew a fisheries agreement with the European Union. Tension grew in July 2002 when Spain called back its ambassador in Rabat over a spat over Morocco's sending six security agents to the tiny uninhabited island of Tourah/Leila (less than 200 meters from the Moroccan coast) on a policing operation to control drug trafficking, illegal immigration and international terrorism in the strait of Gibraltar.
Last December, King Mohammed VI gave Spanish fishermen exceptional access to fish in Moroccan territorial waters, in a solidarity token with fishing professionals affected by the oil slick caused by the sinking of the "Prestige" off Spain's northwest coast.
No exact date was given for the return of ambassadors but the Spanish foreign minister said her country's ambassador would return within days.
The Moroccan and Spanish foreign ministers said, at a press conference that followed a private meeting, that the two countries are resolved to start a new chapter in their bilateral relations.
Moroccan foreign and cooperation minister, Mohamed Benaissa, said Palacio's visit was an opportunity to have "frank discussions" and exchange views of a set of regional and international issues.
"We are convinced that the good will, sincerity and frankness that marked our talks, we are going to maintain the atmosphere of reciprocal trust and respect.
For the Spanish foreign minister, the two countries have a duty to build their common future.
Asked on pending issues, she said that regarding the Sahara, Spain will continue to adopt neutrality.
Palacio also met with Moroccan prime minister, Driss Jettou.
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