Morocco on Friday recalled its ambassador to Madrid after the Spanish royal palace confirmed that King Juan Carlos will next Monday and Tuesday visit the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves on the Moroccan coast.
"Morocco has decided to recall its ambassador for consultations for an unspecified duration," a government source told AFP. The Mediterranean enclaves are claimed by the Moroccan kingdom. Ceuta and Melilla have been under Spanish control for more than 400 years.
The two-day royal visit will be Juan Carlos' first trip to Ceuta and Melilla as head of state.
A Madrid foreign ministry official said the royal visit was "institutional" and related to "internal politics."
Morocco's King Mohammed VI personally "decided to recall Omar Azziman, his Majesty's ambassador in Spain, for an indeterminate period" after the official and "regrettable" announcement of the trip, a foreign ministry statement said.
Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Madrid disagreed with Rabat's move but was confident relations between the two nations would remain strong.
"The decision to recall the Moroccan ambassador is not an act which the Spanish government can agree with at all but we have good ties with Morocco which we are sure will continue," he told reporters in Algeciras.