Gibraltar talks stalled over military base

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The Independent Online

The British Government's hopes of concluding an early agreement with Spain on the future of Gibraltar appear to be receding after serious differences emerged about the future of the military base in the colony.

Earlier this year, officials on both sides expressed confidence that an agreement could be reached "by the summer". Yesterday, Foreign Office officials said the negotiations were "challenging" and that there were still "substantial differences to be overcome".

They were speaking before a meeting between the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and his Spanish opposite number, Josep Pique, in London next week, and a British-Spanish summit, also in London, in 10 days' time.

Friction over the future of the bases came out into the open yesterday, after a Spanish foreign ministry spokesman said that Spain was "not contemplating" a future for Gibraltar which allowed Britain to retain complete control over the military base.

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