Morocco, Spain sign security pact, vow to 'learn lessons' from rift

Sunday, May 23, 2004

LONDON Morocco and Spain, less than two years after coming to blows, have launched formal security cooperation.

The two countries signed an agreement on May 20 meant to bolster cooperation in the battle against Islamic insurgency groups, drug trafficking and illegal migration. Officials from both countries said the agreement would include an exchange in intelligence, training and security expertise.

"We have to learn lessons from what has happened and share information quickly," Spanish Justice Minister Juan Lopez Aguilar said.

The agreement called for the establishment of a committee to help coordinate counter-insurgency and other security efforts, Middle East Newsline reported. The panel would also help in the area of joint investigations as well extraditions.

Officials said a judge from Morocco would be based in Spain and a Spanish judge would be in Rabat to facilitate extradition and other judicial procedures required for the battle against insurgency groups and organized crime.

Moreover, officials said, Spain would help Morocco improve its legal system. They did not rule out Spanish aid to bolster Morocco's security service.

The two countries came to blows regarding a dispute over a tiny empty island in 2002. A reconciliation took place in wake of the March 11 train bombings in Madrid in which 200 people were killed.

Moroccan nationals comprised 14 out of the 18 people charged in the Madrid attacks. Moreover, six out of seven insurgents who blew themselves up in a battle against Spanish security forces in April were identified as Moroccans.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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