Algeria: February 22, 2004


A casual after-dinner remark by Spain's defense minister, that he would have liked to assert sovereignty over the uninhabited Perejil island, threatened to re-ignite an old rift between Spain and Morocco. The two countries broke off diplomatic ties in 2002, when Moroccan soldiers occupied the island and Spain sent in troops to recapture it. Fishing rights off Morocco's Atlantic coast, illegal immigration and Spain's position on the Western Sahara dispute are the main points of friction between the two neighbors. Earlier in the month, Morocco protested a low-altitude flight by Spanish warplanes over northern Morocco and demanded an explanation

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara also hailed the recent decision by the Frente POLISARIO group to release 100 Moroccan prisoners-of-war. - Adam Geibel


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