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To avoid angering Morocco, King Felipe VI excludes Ceuta and Melilla from his tour

King Felipe VI is not visiting Ceuta and Melilla anytime soon while it was announced earlier this month. The two cities were excluded from the royal tour to reportedly avoid Morocco's anger.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia. / Ph. PPE - News Pictures
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After it was announced, Thursday, that the two autonomous cities are part of the royal tour started in July by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, Ceuta and Melilla have been removed from the list.

According to El Confidencial, the two Spanish enclaves were supposed to be visited by the King and Queen of Spain as part of their post-Covid-19 tour, which covered several municipalities to thank the Spanish people for their commitment during the heath crisis.

On Friday, July 3, the Spanish news agency EFE wrote, quoting «official sources» that the King and Queen of Spain do not plan to visit the two cities in the coming days, denying information published the previous day by Ceuta media and El Confidencial.

On Thursday, El Faro de Ceuta contacted the communication department of the Palace of Zarzuela, which confirmed that there will be a royal visit to Ceuta and Melilla. El Confidencial «consulted two government sources and received the same response», said the Spanish newspaper. However, the communications director at the Royal Spanish Palace subsequently corrected the information, claiming that he had no confirmation of the visit, whose program is not yet known.

Avoiding Morocco's anger

El Confidencial recalls that it is the Spanish government that schedules these visits and not the royal palace. «Pedro Sánchez included the two cities in the tour program but, fearing the Moroccan reaction, they were later excluded», El Confidencial wrote.

Juan Carlos and Sofía, the predecessors of Felipe and Letizia, had taken 32 years from the start of their reign before making the decision to visit, in 2007, the two Spanish enclaves. When Spain announced the symbolic visit, Morocco strongly protested against it. Rabat had even decided to summon its ambassador in Spain at the time, Omar Azziman, for consultation, referring to the «unfortunate» incident.

Felipe VI and Letizia visited Morocco in February 2019 as part of an official tour which had, on numerous occasions, been postponed. A second state visit to Morocco after that of July 2014, shortly after the coronation of the new king of Spain. 

Nine months later, Felipe VI had shown «interest» in a visit to Melilla at the request of the president of the city council of Melilla. «Let's see if I would take less time than my father to go there», the monarch jokingly said to Eduardo de Castro González. It seems that he still prefers to delay the visit as  Morocco is tightening the economic noose on Ceuta and Melilla. 

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