Repsol Offshore Exploratory Licenses Too close to Morrocco

Morocco has denounced Spain's violation of the country's maritime territory after Madrid distributed offshore oil prospection licenses for the Canary Islands in Moroccan controlled seas. Madrid granted two petrolium exploratory licenses last week to Spanish company Repsol for two sites nine kilometres (five miles) and 19 kilometres (11 miles) off the coast of the Spanish archipelago, Liberation said. According to Moroccon nes reports "the licenses constitute a direct and blatant violation of international maritime rules. The newspaper said the two countries should talk before making such unilateral decisions. In December 2000, Rabat called for an official response from Spain on its decision to "unilaterally fix" the maritime borders around the Canary Islands. Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohammed Benaissa cited a decision by the International Court of Justice on October 12, 1994. It said: "every demarcation of maritime territory between countries whose coasts are adjacent or opposite each other must be the result of an agreement reached through negotiations in good faith by the countries concerned." Relations between Morocco and Spain have been frosty for the past two months with Rabat recalling its ambassador on October 28. Rabat has criticised Madrid for supporting the Western Sahara separatist Polisario Front who have been demanding autonomy for the region from Morocco for 26 years.

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