Rabat demands return of Spanish enclaves
Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Benaissa on Saturday urged Spain to return Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa to Moroccan sovereignty.
Benaissa made the call for the "recovery of these parts of its national territory which are occupied by Spain" ahead of a September 23 meeting in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart Ana Palacio, according to AFP.
"In doing so, Morocco expressed its readiness to engage in dialogue to arrive at a solution that guarantees the sovereign rights of Morocco and secure the interest of the Spanish community in those regions," the minister said during the United Nations' 57th General Assembly.
Ties between Morocco and Spain have deteriorated in the past year, with the recall by both nations of their respective ambassadors.
They are involved in litigation over a series of issues including fishing, oil exploration near the Canary Islands, illegal immigration and the Western Sahara conflict. Matters came to a head in July over the Mediterranean islet Perejil/Leila off the Moroccan coast, when a dozen Moroccan soldiers occupied it, then the Spanish army evicted them.
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