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Moroccan Ambassador to Spain summoned over calls for territorial sovereignty talks

A general view of Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta which lies on the Strait of Gibraltar.   -  
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FADEL SENNA/AFP or licensors -

Morocco

The Moroccan Ambassador to Spain has been summoned in Madrid over the former’s call to open talks concerning sovereignty over two enclaves in northern Morocco.

On Saturday, the Moroccan Prime Minister proposed opening talks over Ceuta and Melilla.

In a statement, Saad-Eddine El Otmani said "it has been pending for five or six centuries, but one day it could be opened."

According to the Spanish ministry, Spain expects its partners to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

In a statement, the ministry said had it asked the Moroccan ambassador to Spain for explanations on statements by the Moroccan Prime Minister.

The cities of Melilla and Ceuta have been under Spanish sovereignty since the 16th and 17th centuries. They are the only remnants of the African territories formerly controlled by Spain.

The controversy comes at a delicate time in relations between the two countries, particularly on the issue of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.

The sparsely populated territory is controlled by Rabat but claimed by the Polisario Front's independence fighters.

Renewed tension between the two parties in this area and recent recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over this territory by the United States, have revived disagreements on the issue between Rabat and Madrid.

The Spanish government has called for compliance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The Council considers Western Sahara as a "Non-self-governing territory."

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