Albares will travel to Rabat on 1 April

His visit will detail the plans for resuming Operation Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar

REUTERS/YVES HERMAN  -   El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores español, José Manuel Albares

The rapprochement between Rabat and Madrid continues to make great strides. So much so that the Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, has confirmed the date of what will be his first official visit to Rabat after Spain and Morocco have settled the diplomatic crisis in which they were immersed, thus setting in motion "the new stage" of diplomacy between the two countries.  

According to the statement, Albares will travel to Rabat on 1 April with one main objective: to prepare for Pedro Sánchez's visit to the Moroccan capital. In this agenda, which is being drawn up together with his counterpart Naser Burita, the Spanish minister specified that the preparations for the President of the Government's trip would be detailed, as well as "relaunching joint work with Morocco". 

PHOTO/AFP - Morocco's Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita

The new diplomatic phase between Morocco and Spain, boosted by Madrid's support for the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, has managed to resume a series of projects which had been on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them is the resumption of Operation Crossing the Strait, a plan programmed between Madrid and Rabat that consists of coordinating the arrival of people returning to Morocco after spending their summer period abroad.  

Along these lines, Albares declared that they would be working together on "the complete normalisation of connections with Spain, including maritime connections and Operation Crossing the Strait, which we will begin to design that same day". 

AFP/ JORGE GUERRERO - File photo a man waits in front of the ticket office before boarding a ferry bound for Tangier at the port of Algeciras on July 27, 2019.

On the other hand, he stressed that they will work on "reinforcing in a controlled manner the movement of people and goods" between the two kingdoms after Morocco decided to unilaterally close the borders with Ceuta and Melilla in March 2020. 

The Moroccan News Agency (MAP), which announced in a statement that they are planning a joint roadmap "clear and ambitious to register, in a lasting way, the bilateral partnership within the framework of the new bases and parameters underlined in the Royal Court Speech of 20 August" in line with what was communicated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Resident Abroad.  

AFP/ JORGE GUERRERO - People wait at a ferry booking stand at the port of Algeciras on 13 March 2020.

In this "new road map" with Morocco, Albares also points out that they will strengthen "bilateral relations in all areas, the revitalisation of working groups and the consolidation of cooperation in all fields".   

Thus, the minister highlighted the main benefits of the resumption of bilateral relations between Morocco and Spain, not to mention the issue of Western Sahara and the change in the government's position.

AFP/ FERNANDO CALVO / LA MONCLOA  - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez delivers a speech during his official visit to Ceuta.

After relations between the two kingdoms broke down following Brahim Ghali's admission to a Spanish hospital, Morocco confirmed that the main reason for the diplomatic crisis was Spain's neutrality on the Western Sahara issue, a conflict that had been raging for more than 40 years. 

Now, with Spain's new stance, the main rift that separated Madrid and Rabat has become the main point of union between the two countries. It has not yet been confirmed when the Spanish president will officially visit Morocco, but it is hoped that, after Albares' trip to Rabat, a date will be set for this meeting, officially building new relations that both countries now describe as 'lasting' and 'consolidated'.