Morocco rejects Spanish warnings regarding disputed island
Morocco's Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa said Monday that Rabat would not pull its troops off a disputed Mediterranean island it occupied last week despite warnings from Spain and the European Union (EU).
Benaissa told journalists that the "observation post" set up on the tiny island -- known to Spain as Perejil and to Morocco as Leila -- was done "within the framework of exercising the sovereignty of the Moroccan state".
He said his country was "convinced that frank, open and peaceful dialogue remained the best way to build together future relations" with Madrid. He also claimed that the "Isle of Leila is not one of the contentious territories for Spain and Morocco."
With regards to EU warnings, he said the group would "understand the historical and legal arguments" that he asserted were on Morocco's side in the dispute.
The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar warned Morocco on Monday that Spain would not allow Rabat to maintain a troop presence on the island. "Spain will not accept a fait accompli," said Aznar in a state of the union address before parliament. (Albawaba.com)
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