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Moroccan media back new Spanish government

Newspapers in Morocco have been full of praise for Spain's newly elected socialist government, saying it is a source of pride and joy for Morocco. 

Last Modified: 16 Mar 2004 15:49 GMT
Zapatero wants the Spanish troops out of Iraq

Newspapers in Morocco have been full of praise for Spain's newly elected socialist government, saying it is a source of pride and joy for Morocco. 

"The victory of our Spanish socialist friends is a source of pride and joy for us and for the entire socialist family in the world," wrote on Tuesday al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki newspaper, which is close to Morocco's Socialist Union of Popular Forces, the main party in the north African country's monarchical government.

"The days of contempt, of muscle-flexing by the authorities, of gratuitous bellicosity and of demagogic one-upmanship are gone. Spain is, now more than ever, the natural future of Morocco," wrote another paper, Aujourd'hui le Maroc. 

The paper listed issues that have sparked rows between the two countries, which are separated by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea: "The Moroccan Sahara ... maritime borders, the problem of immigration, illegal and otherwise... " 

"Spain has come back to its good senses by democratically changing its government," wrote al-Alam newspaper. 

'Positive repercussions'

Victory for the Spanish Socialist Party would "bring changes to Madrid's foreign policy which will have positive repercussions on relations with Morocco," said al-Alam.  

"The days of contempt, of muscle-flexing by the authorities, of gratuitous bellicosity and of demagogic one-upmanship are gone. Spain is, now more than ever, the natural future of Morocco."

Aujourd'hui le Maroc
Moroccoan newspaper

According to Spain's El Pais newspaper, Spanish police believe they have identified six Moroccans as the bombers responsible for a series of near simultaneous attacks on rush-hour trains in Madrid on Thursday, which killed over 200 people and left 1500 injured. 

Five of the men are still at large, but the sixth, Jamal Zugam, is among a group of suspects arrested at the weekend, it said. 

The Moroccan press has linked the Madrid bombings to blasts in Morocco's northwestern coastal Casablanca city, which claimed 45 lives last June. 

Fostering good relations

Spanish prime minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Monday fostering good relations with Morocco would be one of his foreign policy priorities. 

"We are neighbours, with close historical ties and common economic and cultural interests," he said, a day after the Socialists won a resounding election victory on Sunday. 

Al-Alam also called on the United States and Britain to "stop
the war (in Iraq), which only produces hate, violence and terror." 

Zapatero also said on Monday Spain would withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of June unless a UN-led multinational force took command. 

Source:
AFP
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