Spanish joy over Rock

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The Independent Online
Spain's Foreign Minister, Abel Matutes, yesterday hailed as "a triumph for Spanish diplomacy" Britain's decision on Tuesday to set aside the dispute over Gibraltar and approve Nato's plan to streamline its command structure. Britain had earlier argued that Spain must lift its restrictions on air and naval movements around Gibraltar to be fully integrated into the alliance.

Mr Matutes said Britain, at the Nato meeting in Brussels, had lifted its reservations "without any condition whatsoever. Meanwhile, Spain retains its air and naval restrictions on the military use of the Rock."

British and Spanish officials meet in Madrid tomorrow. Mr Matutes said: "Spain would like to start making concessions and lifting the restrictions, in exchange for progress in this whole process of recuperating Spanish sovereignty."

A Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday: "Britain has lifted its reserve on the principle of Nato enlargement, but we will block work to implement the Spanish and Gibraltar aspects of the new structure until acceptable arrangements are agreed for Gibraltar."