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Straw Apologetic Over Gibraltar Visit 'Leak'

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

03 May 2002


Speaking ahead of the UK Foreign Secretary's one-day working visit to Gibraltar today, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stressed that although Jack Straw is prepared to listen to the concerns of Gibraltarians over Spanish sovereignty, the communication must be two-way.

An FCO spokesman told the Panorama news service that: 'The Foreign Secretary has been saying for some time that he wanted to go to Gibraltar, but it has been a question of finding an appropriate time to go.' He added that: 'He (Mr Straw) is there to listen to the people of Gibraltar, but he will also ask them to listen to what he has to say about the policies the UK has been pursuing.'

The Foreign Secretary's timetable was still being discussed by the Gibraltar government and the FCO yesterday, but the stated aim of both parties was for Mr Straw to meet 'as wide a range [of] Gibraltarians as possible' during his visit.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Rock's government announced that it welcomed the UK minister's visit, as it would enable him to see for himself the depth of opposition to the 'done deal' Declaration of Principles currently under discussion between Britain and Spain. However, it added that the Gibraltarian authorities 'deeply regretted' the manner in which they were informed of the visit, and the short notice afforded for making arrangements.

According to Panorama, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office attempted to make peace with the government prior to the Foreign Secretary's trip, however, when Mr Straw telephoned Chief Minister Peter Caruana to apologise for what he described as 'a leak'.


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