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Spain's Sanchez visits Morocco, ending a year-long diplomatic crisis

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is welcomed by Morocco's King Mohammed VI   -  
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Morocco's King Mohammed VI hosted Spain's prime minister on Thursday, the landmark visit is aimed at ending a year-long diplomatic crisis, after Madrid reversed decades of neutrality on the Western Sahara conflict.

The move is seen as a U-turn that has angered Algeria, has sparked a domestic backlash, with Spain's parliament on Thursday.

Pedro Sanchez, Spanish Prime Minister said it was a "historic moment for both countries that is necessary in defining our bilateral relations. "

"One of the first objectives of this new stage will be the recovery of full normality in the movement of goods and merchandise at the border crossings of Ceuta and Melilla."

"We will proceed with the gradual reopening of the border crossings, to ensure an orderly flow of people in complete safety and in compliance with the necessary health requirements, and goods will also flow normally."

The visit, which aims to draw a line under a major stand-off between the two countries, would help restore normal border traffic between Morocco and Spain.

For Spain, the principal aim of mending fences was to guarantee Morocco's cooperation on irregular migration -- which, observers say, Rabat has often used to put pressure on Madrid.

For Morocco, the question of Western Sahara is the top priority.

Rabat controls 80 percent of Western Sahara, which the UN considers a "non-autonomous territory".