Prince Charles, Spanish PM urge cooperation over disputes

Gibraltar has long fuelled tensions between Spain and Britain.

Madrid: Prince Charles and Spain`s Prime Minister have agreed that their countries -- at odds over Gibraltar -- should find solutions to bilateral disputes in a "spirit of cooperation”.

The heir to the British throne, who is on an official visit to Spain with his wife Camilla, and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero held talks in Madrid on a wide range of issues, Zapatero`s office said in a statement on Thursday.

"Both reviewed bilateral relations and agreed that political efforts to find solutions to outstanding issues should continue in the best spirit of cooperation," it said.

The statement did not elaborate but Madrid and London have clashed over the tiny British territory of Gibraltar off Spain`s southern coast.

In a toast at an official banquet at Madrid`s royal palace on Wednesday night, Spain`s Crown Prince Felipe said the two countries needed to solve the row.

"I …hope that our authorities make progress in resolving the historical bilateral dispute that is still pending," he said.

Gibraltar, which Madrid ceded to London in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, has long fuelled tensions between the two countries.

Madrid argues the 6.5-square-kilometre (2.6-square-mile) promontory that is home to around 30,000 people should be returned to Spanish sovereignty.

But its people overwhelmingly rejected an Anglo-Spanish proposal for co-sovereignty in a referendum in 2002.

Spain protested to London over a visit to the territory by Charles` sister Princess Anne in 2009.

In a speech at a ceremony to receive the keys to city of Madrid on Thursday, Charles stressed "the centuries which have bound together our two countries... The importance of these ties has never been in doubt."

Charles and Zapatero also discussed "the economic situation of both countries and Europe, with special attention to social policies" as well the uprising in the Arab world, the nuclear accident in Japan and environmental issues, the Prime Minister`s office said.

It said Zapatero "was interested in the work led by Prince Charles in relation to environmental conservation and sustainable development."

In his speech at the city hall, Charles hailed the efforts of Spanish companies to promote sustainable development projects.

"I am afraid we have no choice but to work together to build low-carbon economic growth if we are to bequeath a planet capable of sustaining human life for our children and grandchildren."

The royal couple were guests at a lunch hosted by Spain`s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid.

Prince Felipe also accompanied Charles on a visit to the Repsol Technology Centre, an energy research centre in Mostoles outside Madrid.

Charles and Camilla -- officially the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall -- arrived in Madrid Wednesday from Portugal as part of a three-nation tour that will also take them to Morocco and is aimed at promoting trade and investment.

The couple visit the historic southwestern city of Seville on Friday before spending the night at a private estate near Granada.

Bureau Report