Spain's ambassador to the United Nations said here Friday que Gibraltar is "a colony" whose future can only be decided by negotiations exclusively between Madrid and London.

"Gibraltar is a colony and what must be done is establish a system of negotiations that will lead to the territorial unity of the country," Fernando Arias told Efe after taking part in the meeting of the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization, which studied the case of the Rock for more than a year.

Arias, who in his address asked for "the resumption of the bilateral dialogue" with Britain on matters concerning Gibraltar and its sovereignty, rejected the plea for a three-cornered discussion put forward by Gibraltarian Chief Minister Fabian Picardo to the same committee.

"Our interlocutor on subjects of sovereignty and jurisdiction is the United Kingdom, which is why I have not replied to what was requested by Gibraltar, because it is not our interlocutor," the Spanish ambassador said.

Gibraltar is a territory of 5.5 square kilometers (2.1 square miles) on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has been held by Britain since 1704 and became a British Crown Colony in 1713 in accord with the Treaty of Utrecht.

"We are flexible and take into consideration the population. We're interested in their development and well-being as well as how to win their agreement, but the negotiations are between Madrid and London," the Spanish ambassador said.

Picardo accused Spain of "constantly attacking and harassing" Gibraltar and said the Rock will "never be Spanish," but invited Madrid to resume the three-cornered talks to settle the conflict.

The last few weeks have seen clashes between Gibraltarian patrol vessels and Spanish fishing boats, which traditionally work the waters along the Rock over which Spain claims sovereignty. EFE