Rabat, Apr 7 (EFE).- The leaders of Spain and Morocco announced a new phase in bilateral relations at the conclusion of a meeting here Thursday that marked the end of a nearly year-long diplomatic chill between the two nations.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s guest for the Iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan and held a press conference afterward to provide details of what the two men agreed in their talks.
Regarding Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish autonomous cities that sit between the Mediterranean and Moroccan territory, the governments decided on a gradual normalization of border controls for the passage of people and goods.
While the prime minister did not cite a date for the completion of the process, the summit declaration said that maritime travel between Spain and Morocco will resume immediately.
The declaration said that Spain “recognizes the importance of the question of Western Sahara for Morocco, as well as the serious and credible efforts of Morocco in the framework of the United Nations to find a mutually acceptable solution.”
The statement went on to reiterate that Madrid regards the Moroccan autonomy plan, first proposed in 2007, as the “most serious, realistic, and credible basis” to resolve the decades-long dispute over the former Spanish colony.
Morocco invaded the region in 1975 as Spain withdrew. The Polisario Front – supported by Algeria – responded with armed resistance and won a judgment from the World Court backing the Sahrawis’ demand for self-determination.
Algeria helped broker a cease-fire between Morocco and the Polisario in 1991, a pact that envisioned a referendum in Western Sahara on self-determination which has yet to take place.
The Spanish and Moroccan governments pledged on Thursday to address issues of mutual interest through efforts to achieve consensus, eschewing unilateral measures.
And the two governments undertook to appoint within three months a binational commission to implement the accords reached Thursday.
Ties between Rabat and Madrid grew strained in May 2021, when Spain allowed Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali to undergo Covid-19 treatment at a hospital in the northern city of Logroño.
Ghali’s sojourn in Spain provoked an angry reaction from Morocco, which Madrid accused of engineering a rush of more than 8,000 undocumented migrants into Ceuta. EFE bb/mp/dr