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Spain seeks 'joint use' airport agreement 'that respects red lines', Dastis says

Spain wants an agreement for joint use of the airport that respects each party’s red lines on the issue, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said yesterday in an interview with Reuters.

Mr Dastis said Spain hoped to reach an agreement with the UK on Gibraltar by October, repeating earlier statements that Madrid did not want this issue to derail the wider Brexit process.

“We have tried to reach an agreement for joint use [of the airport] on two occasions, once in 1987 which was not accepted by the British part, and once in 2006, which ultimately we did not accept,” he said.

"It seems to us a good idea to make a third attempt - you could apply the saying 'third time lucky' - and for that joint use to be possible [while each side] maintains their claims [and] without that joint use affecting each party’s position.”

Mr Dastis was also very optimistic about ongoing discussions with the UK relating to Gibraltar. Although he did not mention this, the Gibraltar Government is closely involved in preparing the UK’s position for those talks whenever they relate to Gibraltar.

“The goodwill is there,” Mr Dastis told Reuters.

“We want to be constructive because our objective, as we’ve said from the outset, is to preserve as far as possible the rights of citizens and have no disruption to their lives or their jobs, and even to create a space for shared prosperity.”

“I think that would be favourable for everybody.”

Mr Dastis made clear that Spain still wants to reclaim Gibraltar, but said the Spanish Government is not trying to use Brexit to further that goal.

"We recognise that Gibraltar was ceded to Britain more than 300 years ago but our aim is to recover it," he said.

"However, we do not want to convert the conversation between the European Union and Britain into a hostage-type situation."

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