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Spain sees improved police cooperation with Morocco

Source: Reuters - Mon 23rd Aug 2010

Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba sought to put a dispute over immigration issues with Morocco in the past on Monday saying the incidents had served to bolster police cooperation between the countries.

Rubalacaba met his Moroccan counterpart Taib Cherkaoui in Rabat on Monday to discuss relations between the two countries, following recent sporadic blockades by anti-Spanish demonstrators at the gates of the Melilla enclave.

Moroccans have long resented the existence of the Spanish enclaves of Mellila and Ceuta, but the latest disputes began just over three weeks ago when five Belgian nationals of Moroccan descent who had tried to enter Melilla accused the Spanish police of beating and abusing them.

In a press conference held in Rabat after the meeting, Rubalcaba made little mention of the incidents which he said had centred on the countries' fight against organised crime, drug trafficking, terrorism and illegal immigration.

"There was a series of incidents that are now in the past. We have sat down and agreed to a number of things to improve police cooperation" he said.

"We are happy to work together because we share the same risks and problems -villegal immigration, drugs, and terrorism."

Earlier, Rubalcaba had met with King Mohammed VI.

The Interior minister said he had formally agreed to meet at least once a year with his counterpart to assure stable relations, while Spanish and Moroccan police would meet quarterly to try and work closer together within the enclaves.

He also said they would establish two police offices in Tanger and Algeciras by next summer where both Spanish and Moroccan police would work side by side.

Good relations between the two countries are crucial for the European Union's fight against illgeal immigration, terrorism and drug trafficking.

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