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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 13:48 GMT
Arrest over Spanish king's visit
A protest in Ceuta against the visit
There have been protests on the Moroccan side of the enclaves
A Moroccan senator protesting about the King of Spain's visit to the Spanish-held enclave of Melilla has been briefly held by Spanish police.

Yahia Yahia was arrested and then freed after several hours, Morocco's official news agency reports.

King Juan Carlos was greeted by thousands of Melilla's residents waving Spanish flags a day after his visit to nearby Ceuta, another Spanish enclave.

Morocco's prime minister has criticised the controversial visits.

Prime Minister Abbas el Fassi told parliament on Monday that Spain should understand that the era of colonialism had passed and the return of Ceuta and Melilla should be directly negotiated.

Ceuta and Melilla, on Morocco's coast, came under Spanish control about 500 years ago but Morocco claims them too.

Rare visits

The Moroccan senator was taking part in a protest against the visit at the territory's border post with Morocco.

King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Sofia stand on the balcony of the city hall during their visit to Ceuta, 5 November 2007
This is the king's first visit to the enclaves in his 32-year reign

In Melilla, thousands waving Spain's red-and-yellow flag packed the town's main square and shouting, "Ole! Ole! Ole! We are Spanish!", AP news agency reports.

High-level Spanish visits to the two strategic enclaves are rare. This is the first time the king has visited as head of state in his 32-year reign.

When Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero went there in 2006 it was the first by a Spanish head of government since 1981.

Madrid says the urban enclaves are integral parts of Spain.

They are surrounded by Morocco, which views the Spanish presence as anachronistic and claims sovereignty.

SEE ALSO
In pictures: Juan Carlos in Ceuta
05 Nov 07 |  In Pictures
Regions and territories: Ceuta, Melilla
30 Oct 07 |  Country profiles



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