British Foreign Secretary Dr. David Owen ended a three-day visit to Spain on Wednesday (7?
British Foreign Secretary Dr. David Owen ended a three-day visit to Spain on Wednesday (7 September) during which he promised full British support for Spain's application to join the European Economic Community. According to Reuter's new agency, he also laid the basis for a negotiated end to the long-standing dispute over Gibraltar. Spain closed its land frontier with the British colony, over which it claims sovereignty, in 1969. After a series of talks, Dr. Owen told BBC's Gordon Martin that he was now more hopeful of a solution to the Gibraltar problem.
Britain has administered the Rock of Gibraltar since 1704. It maintains it cannot transfer sovereignty to Spain against the wishes of Gibraltar's 30-thousand people who have repeatedly said they want to remain British. Dr. Owen said in Madrid at the start of his visit that is would be wrong to see the talks as being dominated by Gibraltar. The most important issues, he said, were Spain's application for entry into the EEC, and bilateral relations with Britain. Relations between Britain and Spain were severely strained in 19639 when the late General Franco imposed a blockade on Gibraltar.