June 30, 2020 / 12:51 PM / 6 days ago

UPDATE 1-Spain to open border with Morocco only in case of reciprocity

(Adds context on annual migration)

MADRID, June 30 (Reuters) - Spain will only open its borders with Morocco if there is a reciprocal agreement to let people travelling via Spain enter the North African country, Spanish government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said on Tuesday.

Every summer tens of thousands of members of Europe’s Moroccan diaspora converge in Spain by car to cross the Straits of Gibraltar and return home either directly or via the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast.

Authorities from both countries deploy extra border officials to smooth the immigration process and avoid holdups.

“When Morocco sees fit we will collaborate with them to establish controls so this transfer of thousands of people does not become a health risk,” Montero told a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.

Morocco is part of a group of countries to be included on a list of safe travel destinations that the European Union will unveil later on Tuesday.

Travel between Spain and these countries, which include Australia, Canada and Japan, but not the United States, would begin on July 2 or 3, Montero said.

China and Morocco are provisionally included on the list, but Spain would only open up its borders to travellers from them with a reciprocal agreement in place, she said.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen; Editing by Philippa Fletcher

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