MADRID, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Friday the country will respond appropriately to British provocations over Gibraltar.
Rajoy promised "legal and proportional steps," the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported. He gave a news conference a day after the British government announced the deployment of a group of nine ships to Gibraltar, including three that will dock there.
The 2.6-square-mile promontory off southern Spain has been British territory since 1713. Gibraltar has become a major bone of contention between the two countries.
The current row began with a dispute about fishing when Spain objected to the construction of a breakwater. Britain said the structure is needed to restore fish stocks depleted by Spanish fishermen.
Britain said the deployment of the naval force has been planned for a long time and is a normal part of its military operations. But the announcement was made Thursday after days of rising tension.