Palma.—Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said yesterday that he hoped for dialogue with Britain soon regarding Gibraltar, but added that until talks took place his government would continue to consider unilateral measures to defend Spanish interests.

Tensions over Gibraltar flared up last week when Spain complained that an artificial reef being built by Gibraltar would block its fishing vessels. “I hope that this doesn't go any further, but it's clear that Spain has to defend its national interest and that's what we're going to do,” Rajoy said to reporters after a meeting with King Juan Carlos at Marivent Palace in Palma.

Spain says it is considering measures such as a 50-euro (43 pounds) border fee for non-workers entering Gibraltar from Spain, tax investigations of Gibraltarians with property in Spain and restrictions on use of its airspace for flights going to Gibraltar's airport.

Rajoy said that he had a constructive phone conversation on Wednesday with Prime Minister David Cameron to try to bring a war of words over Gibraltar to an end.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, also currently in majorca, spoke with his British counterpart on Wednesday and said they agreed to set up working groups on issues such as fishing around the tiny territory known as “The Rock,” at the tip of Spain.

However, the Gibraltarian authorities threw the diplomatic efforts into doubt, saying no working groups had been agreed.
Rajoy said yesterday that any talks must be four-way, involving Spain, Britain, Gibraltar and Andalusia, which is home to many workers who cross the border daily into the British territory.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Great Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht, a document in Latin that was signed 300 years ago.


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