Fri, Apr 01, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Spain says Gibraltar issue must be solved

ROCK OF CONTENTION:The small territory on the coast of southern Spain, which Madrid ceded to London in 1713, has long fueled tensions between Britain and Spain

AFP, MADRID

Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe told Britain’s Prince Charles that their two countries need to solve their “bilateral dispute” over Gibraltar, during an official dinner in Madrid.

“Royal Highnesses, your presence in Spain encourages us to deepen our common will to help the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain ... expand day by day their understanding and cooperation,” Felipe said in a toast at the gala dinner at Spain’s Royal Palace on Wednesday.

“With that in mind, I also hope that our authorities make progress in resolving the historical bilateral dispute that is still pending,” he said, in a reference to Gibraltar.

The tiny territory on the coast of southern Spain, which Madrid ceded to London in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, has long fuelled tensions between the two countries. Madrid argues the 6.5km promontory that is home to around 30,000 people should be returned to Spanish sovereignty.

However, its people overwhelmingly rejected an Anglo-Spanish proposal for co-sovereignty in a referendum in 2002.

There were a series of face-offs involving the security forces of the two countries in the surrounding waters last year.

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived on Wednesday in Madrid from Portugal — part of a three-nation tour that will also take them to Morocco.

Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia are the official hosts of the visit.

The British royals met earlier on Wednesday with some 300 volunteers who help British residents in Spain at a reception at the official residence of Britain’s ambassador to Spain, Giles Paxman.

It is the first joint visit to Spain by Prince Charles and Camilla, who were married on April 9, 2005.

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