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US Urges Peaceful Resolution of Moroccan-Spanish Confrontation - 2002-07-17

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has telephoned the foreign ministers of Spain and Morocco, urging a peaceful resolution of the two countries' confrontation over a disputed island off Morocco's Mediterranean coast.

Spain and Morocco have worked closely with the Bush administration on among other things Middle East peace-making and the fight against terrorism. And Mr. Powell is taking a personal role in efforts to defuse the dispute between the two friends, with multiple telephone calls to both Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa and his Spanish counterpart Ana Palacio.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the aim of U.S. diplomacy is to return the situation to where it was earlier this week, before Morocco put troops on the tiny island and Spain countered with its own landing to expel the Moroccans. "Both Spain and Morocco are long-standing friends of the United States," he said. "All along we've consistently urged a peaceful settlement and a return to the situation of July 10. This continues to be the U.S. position."

Mr. Boucher said neither Spain nor Morocco informed the United States before taking military action.