Morocco recalls Spain ambassador
(BBC) Morocco says it is indefinitely recalling its ambassador to Spain amid a row over a planned royal visit to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Moroccan authorities described as "regrettable" the plan by Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia to travel to the coastal enclaves next week.
Ambassador Omar Azziman is reportedly being recalled for "consultation".
Ceuta and Melilla, on Morocco's coast, came under Spanish control about 500 years ago but Morocco claims them too.
High-level Spanish visits to the two strategic enclaves are rare.
When Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero went there in 2006 it was the first by a Spanish head of government since 1981.
The visit planned for next Monday and Tuesday will be the first by the king as head of state.
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vegas says the visit is happening as a result of requests made by the residents of Ceuta and Melilla and insisted that it would not affect Spain's good relations with Morocco.
"Relations with the kingdom of Morocco are extraordinarily good... based on sincere affection and mutual respect," she was quoted by Reuters as saying.
However, Moroccan officials have been quick to condemn the visit.
The government expresses "its strong rejection and total disapproval of this regrettable initiative, whatever the motivation or intentions," spokesman Khalid Naciri said, according to Reuters.
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.
The enclaves are surrounded by fences, intended to deter illegal immigrants. But Ceuta and Melilla are nonetheless used by many Africans as stepping-stones to Iberia.