Spain and Morocco have agreed to set aside their differences, Spanish Prime Minister said on Thursday, as they seek to repair a relationship marked by frequent disputes over migration and territory.

Iran PressAfrica: The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was speaking on Thursday at a summit in Rabat, where the two countries signed about 20 agreements aimed at boosting trade and investment, including credit lines of up to 800 million euros.

“We have agreed on a commitment to mutual respect, whereby in our discourse and in our political practice we will avoid everything that we know offends the other party, especially regarding our respective spheres of sovereignty,” Sanchez said.

There have been regular diplomatic crises over Spain’s enclaves in North Africa, Morocco’s dispute with rebels over the Western Sahara region, and the arrival of refugees and migrants in Spain each year through Morocco.

Morocco refuses to recognise Spanish sovereignty over the enclaves Ceuta and Melilla, but the two countries agreed to open the first customs control point at Ceuta last year.

Madrid says that reflects Rabat’s recognition of the enclaves as foreign territory but Morocco has made no public statement indicating that its long-held stance that the enclaves should be part of its territory has changed.



Sanchez recovers friendly relationship with Rabat in March 2022 after he reversed Spain’s policy on the disputed territory of Western Sahara by supporting Morocco’s proposal to establish an autonomous region. The Algerian-backed Polisario Front separatist movement seeks to establish an independent state in the region.

Last month, the country’s Members of European Parliament (MEPs) voted against a resolution in the European Parliament calling on Morocco to improve its record on press freedom. An MEP Juan Fernando Lopez said this week that maintaining friendly neighborliness sometimes involves “swallowing a toad”.

A Spanish government source said Spain hopes to receive a significant portion of the 45 billion euros that Morocco is expected to invest by 2050 to improve its infrastructure.

The person said Spanish companies are well positioned to win concessions in areas important to Rabat’s development plans, such as water sanitation and renewable energy.



State-owned rail operators Renfe and Adif are working with their Moroccan partner to develop new train lines, which could mean €6 billion in business.

In Rabat on Thursday, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch expressed satisfaction at Spain’s support for Morocco’s autonomy plan as the “most reliable solution” to settle the dispute. Western Sahara, but did not mention an agreement to set aside any sovereignty disputes.

A joint statement made no mention of Spanish enclaves in Morocco although it did reiterate Spain’s new stance towards Western Sahara. Morocco has said it expects Spain to assume the upcoming presidency of the European Union, meaning it can act as a bridge for better relations with the bloc.

Tensions with Algeria

Madrid’s about-turn on Western Sahara drew the ire of Algeria which suspended trade with Spain and warned it could cut the flow of natural gas to Spain even as it forges closer gas ties with Italy.

Spanish exports to Algeria fell by 41 percent to 1 billion euros in the January-November 2022 period compared with a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Industry. Its exports to Morocco rose by 27 percent to 10.8 billion euros in the same period.


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