Tuesday, February 08, 2005

HMS Sceptre set to sail tomorrow

Tripartite talks on track for friday

The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that the key repairs to the nuclear powered submarine HMS Sceptre have been completed and that the vessel is set to sail on schedule this Wednesday. Works to the cladding and exterior were being finished and the scaffolding will come down after that.

Meanwhile, PSOE parliamentary spokesman for Foreign Affairs Rafael Estrella has declared that Friday’s planned tripartite talks in Malaga between Britain, Gibraltar and Spain should not be affected by the row over the presence of HMS Sceptre in Gibraltar, “provided that the submarine leaves on Wednesday.”

Speaking on GBC Radio yesterday morning, Sr Estrella was keen to draw a distinction between his Government’s reaction to the current submarine crisis and that of the PP administration at the time of the Tireless. Sr Estrella said that while former Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar had cracked jokes about “the yellow submarine,” the PSOE had summoned the British ambassador in Madrid and had informed the public in the Campo through the Junta de Andalucia and the Mancomunidad. Sr Estrella claimed there was “lack of transparency and coherence” by Britain while accusing it of “cheating Spain and Gibraltar” over this issue. The PSOE spokesman also said that Gibraltar and Spain were united in anger at the way the submarine visit had been handled. He added that the Gibraltar airport will be the main issue in the agenda for Friday’s talks in Malaga.

Meanwhile the Partido Popular leader Mariano Rajoy has reacted to the controversy of the nuclear submarine by calling for a suspension of Friday’s talks. In remarks to the Spanish press, Sr Rajoy said that the Spanish Government should act decisively on the question of the submarine, and without demagoguery.

Campo welcome repairs completion

Campo Mancomunidad yesterday welcomed the news that works on the nuclear submarine Sceptre have been finalised and the vessel will be leaving on Wednesday as previously announced. A Mancomunidad spokesman reiterated their opposition to the repairs of nuclear submarines in Gibraltar and called on the Spanish Government to include a ban on the repair of nuclear faults, during the course of the tripartite talks that take place in Malaga on Friday. The Campo should not be held hostage with these situations ever again, added a Mancomunidad statement, while expressing continuing support for the process of cross-border cooperation.

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