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Pique Comments Add Weight To Rumours

by Amanda Banks,, London

04 July 2002

Comments made by Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Pique to the Spanish media have added weight to rumours that the United Kingdom and Spain plan to unveil a partial agreement on Gibraltar when they meet again on July 12.

The Iberia news service reported this week that the Senor Pique, speaking to the Spanish media, revealed that he expects some kind of agreement to be reached during the next Anglo-Spanish meeting, and that he would like a fuller accord between the two countries over Gibraltarian sovereignty to be reached before he steps down as Foreign Minister in September.

The news service went on to suggest that this is unlikely, citing unnamed diplomatic sources as revealing that the UK and Spain do not really expect to come to an agreement on the ownership of the Rock during the first five years of discussion, but are currently concerned with maintaining open channels of communication in order to ensure that negotiations can continue.

'The next meeting is also said to be aiming at opening the gateway for future Foreign Ministers to continue the debate over Gibraltar and continue discussions on the way ahead towards cooperation. A five year plan is said to have been outlined by the UK which sets out that the first two years would be based on 'crisis' talks before the discussions settled down and both parties would be able to convince their respective voters that this is the way ahead even if the sovereignty issue is not permanently resolved,' Iberia news suggested on Wednesday.

This follows an earlier report from local news provider, Panorama, which suggested that the UK and Spain are gearing up to make an announcement on the areas where agreement has been reached - such as the need for greater freedom of movement at the frontier, the necessity of maintaining the 'British way of life' in the territory, and the possibility of Spanish passports for Gibraltarians should they so desire.

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