Spain's King Juan Carlos has arrived in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the North African coast, as he continues a visit that has ignited controversy in Morocco.

Thousands of flag-waving residents cheered the monarch and Queen Sofia in the city's central square. Juan Carlos told the crowd that as king of all Spaniards he has a duty to visit them.

Monday, the king and queen visited another coastal enclave, Cueta, where he told residents he came to express Spain's "affection and support" for them.

A Moroccan government spokesman, Khaid Naciri, described the Spanish royal visit as unfortunate. As on Monday, demonstrators gathered at a border post between Morocco and the enclave to protest the visit.

Rabat considers both enclaves to be occupied Moroccan territory.

Morocco last week recalled its ambassador to Madrid in response to the king's visits.

Spanish authorities note the cities have been under Spanish control for more than 400 years, longer than Morocco has been a sovereign state.

The governments in Madrid and Rabat have maintained generally good relations since the election of Spanish socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as prime minister in 2004.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.