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Spain-Gibraltar talks falter

Fri 15th Oct 2010

The meetings due to be held this week between the governments of Spain, Gibraltar and the UK have been postponed.

Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Spain's minister for foreign affairs, cited "technical reasons" to explain the indefinite postponement of the meetings, which were inteded to discus maritime cooperation and law enforcement in the waters surrounding the British colony.

If they had gone ahead, the meetings were intended to have been a forum to explore possible mechanisms for maritime, police and environmental cooperation.

A number of recent incidents had threatened the talks - the latest taking place just two weeks ago, when agents of the Royal Gibraltar Police intercepted a Guardia Civil patrol boat after it had chased a vessel suspected of carrying drugs.

Represntatives of Spain's Guardia Civil claimed that the incident had occurred in "Spanish waters, in the area known as Boquete de Poniente, and that one of the Gibraltar police officers had boarded their boat.

Authorities in Gibraltar countered that the action of the Guardia Civil had been "totally unacceptable", since they were within the perimeter of three nautical miles it claims as its own waters, and that they would proceed to examine the "effects" that would follow.

Just two days later, Moratinos pledged to continue collaborating, aside from the issue over sovereignty, but stated that he could not speak of "Gibraltar waters, but only of Spanish waters".

During the last meeting held in Gibraltar last year, both governments agreed to cooperate further on issues oncerning Education, Customs and Taxation.

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