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Spanish Media Stirs Opinion over Gibraltar Warships Visit

Thu 8th Aug 2013
Spanish Media Stirs Opinion over Gibraltar Warships Visit

Spanish media have jumped at the news that a task force fleet of three British Royal Navy vessels are due to visit Gibraltar in the coming weeks.

Although the timing of the visit is controversial and potentially politically sensitive, the MoD has stressed the visit was not related to the border issues and said he was unable to confirm exactly when the ships would arrive at Gibraltar.

"The forthcoming visit by ships making up Cougar 13, including HMS Westminster and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Lyme Bay and Mounts Bay, are business as usual," an MoD statement said.

A similar Cougar military manoeuvre took place in 2012, involving the same number of vessels which also visited Gibraltar.

However, the Spanish media is in frenzy with some claiming the visit is actually a display of military might to ward off incursions into territorial waters by Spanish fishermen and Guardia Civil launches sent to protect them.

"This is a routine visit that takes place every year and was scheduled well in advance," Gibraltar's defence spokeswoman Julia Wilde said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy spoke on Wednesday and agreed to try and calm tempers. Cameron's office said he had made Rajoy aware of the impending navy visit during their call.

The MoD said British Navy vessels will also visit ports in Malta and Portugal as well as Spain and Gibraltar.

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