The Spanish Minister for agriculture and fisheries, Miguel Arias Cañete, said in Santiago de Compostela yesterday that the government hoped to sign a fishing agreement with Morocco this summer. He added that he was giving priority to the matter. The minister was speaking at a press conference on his first official visit to the capital of Galicia. Today he is due to have talks with Franz Fischler, the European fisheries commissioner, and one of the chief topics of their talks will be the agreement with Morocco. However, the attitude of the Moroccan authorities is reported to be very negative, and the minister said that negotiations would be tough. This is the first meeting with Fischler since Arias Cañete was appointed minister and they will discuss various matters of interest to Spain. Fischler is due to travel to Rabat on Thursday, for meetings with the Moroccan authorities to set a calendar for negotiations, although previous efforts have failed. Arias Cañete is due to have talks tomorrow with the two Spanish commissioners, Loyola de Palacio and Pedro Solbes, and with the EC director generals of agriculture and Fisheries, José Manuel Silva of Spain and Steffen Smidt of Denmark. In Santiago, Arias Cañete said that the Galician fishing fleet had to be “maintained, defended and preserved.”


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