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Spain to go ahead with aid package that turned into diplomatic incident with Morocco

Spain to go ahead with aid package that turned into diplomatic incident with Morocco

A Spanish donation of 150 vehicles to Morocco _ a gesture of aid that mushroomed into a diplomatic spat _ will go ahead after a weeks of stalemate, Spanish officials said Wednesday.
The vehicles have spent a month parked at a port in Ceuta, a tiny Spanish enclave on Morocco's northern coast. Spain wanted to ship them into Morocco by land, with the goal of helping Morocco patrol its border and fight against illegal immigration into the enclave.
But Morocco would not accept them that way because it claims sovereignty over Ceuta and letting the jeeps, motorcycles, minivans and quads in by land would amount to recognizing a border that Morocco officially says does not exist, Spanish officials say.
A compromise formula was found under which the vehicles will be loaded onto a Moroccan ship at Ceuta's port and carried 50 kilometers (30 miles) west to Tangier, said Jenaro Garcia-Arreciado, the Spanish Interior Ministry's top representative in Ceuta. That ship was to leave later Wednesday.
Garcia-Arreciiado defended the arrangement against criticism from conservatives in Ceuta who say Spain has in effect bowed to Morocco's claim to Ceuta, which along with another enclave further east, Melilla, has been in Spanish hands for more than 500 years.
He said the cargo "is leaving from a port that is Spanish, a Spanish border which is Ceuta, and I trust that this will ease the anxiety which had arisen among the citizens of Ceuta."
Francisco Antonio Gonzalez, a lawmaker from Ceuta who represents the conservative opposition Popular Party, said the Spanish government had allowed itself to be humiliated by a country to which it was making a donation.
"Morocco defends its arguments very well. It is Spain that yields to Moroccan offenses," he said in Madrid.