Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez | Credit: ANSA
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez | Credit: ANSA

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged greater cooperation on migration on his first visit to Morocco, calling on the North African country to increase efforts to curb undocumented migration.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez asked Morocco to reduce irregular migration to send a "message to the mafia," Spanish daily El Pais reported on Tuesday. 

Migration pressure has been steadily increasing in Spain. As of November 15, some 55,949 migrants had landed on the country's coast this year so far - a 142 percent rise compared to the same period in the previous year. Over 90 percent of them came from Morocco. According to data released by the Spanish government, the country in northern Africa has become a key stop-over used by traffickers on the Western Mediterranean route.

The Morocco government has pledged to "strengthen repatriation policies" for undocumented migrants from Spain, Sanchez said after meeting with his Moroccan counterpart Saadedin el-Otmani. 

Since the beginning of the year, the North African country has accepted the repatriation of 3,400 Moroccans, compared with the 4,450 accepted last year.

Visits and joint bids planned 

After his meeting with el-Otmani, Sanchez was received by King Mohamed VI. The meeting resulted in an agreement to speed up a plan to build a third underwater cable across the Strait of Gibraltar to connect the two countries' power markets. Sanchez also offered Rabat the possibility to present a joint Spain-Morocco-Portugal bid for the 2030 Football World Cup. The Spanish leader stressed that bilateral relations between the two countries were at an "excellent moment."

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