ROYAL VISIT

Felipe VI renews bond with Morocco

Spanish king describes Morocco as “a politically stable southern frontier for Spain”

Felipe VI and Letizia at the Mohammed V Mausoleum in Rabat.
Felipe VI and Letizia at the Mohammed V Mausoleum in Rabat.EFE

Spanish boats could be fishing in Moroccan waters again in 15 to 20 days’ time. That’s thanks to an agreement signed between the European Union and King Mohammed VI, who announced news of the deal during an official visit by the new Spanish monarchs, Felipe VI and Letizia.

Felipe said that he was “grateful for the gesture” that will enable Spanish ships to return to fishing grounds that had been off limits for three years, given that the agreement was not renewed.

The move was seen as a gesture of goodwill by Mohammed VI, 51, toward Felipe VI, 46, who was proclaimed king on June 19. The Moroccan monarch enjoyed good relations with Felipe’s father, Juan Carlos I.

The new barrier on Moroccan soil will be three to five meters high and run for 30 kilometers

The two-day visit to Morocco — the Spanish monarchs’ third official outing after the Vatican and Lisbon — also served to address pressing bilateral issues such as security, immigration and the conflict in the Middle East, which affects the neighboring countries of Morocco, where Jihadists train combatants for the civil war in Syria.

Felipe VI also met for 40 minutes with Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelazih Benkirane, who said afterwards that he has promoted the Moroccan model as the one and only “moderate Islamism.”

The Spanish king thanked Benkirane for the country’s efforts in immigration policy and its assistance near the border fences of Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish cities surrounded by Moroccan territory that thousands of undocumented Africans try to reach in their quest to find a better life in European territory. Felipe VI described Morocco as “a politically stable southern frontier for Europe and for Spain.”

For over a month, Morocco has been conducting work around the perimeter of Melilla, which already has two fences on the Spanish side and a new anti-climb mesh. The new barrier on Moroccan soil will be three to five meters high and run for 30 kilometers.

Also a month ago, Spain and Morocco signed a new cooperation agreement involving €150 million for Moroccan-based projects over the course of three years.

Before returning to Madrid, Felipe VI and Mohammed VI visited a vocational training center in Temara, while Queen Letizia joined Mohammed’s wife, Princess Lalla Salma, in a visit to a breast cancer support center.

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