Morocco, Spain ‘usher a new phase’ after Western Sahara rift

i24NEWS - Reuters

3 min read
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (3rd-L) attends a meeting with Morocco's King Mohammed VI (C) at the Royal Palace in Rabat, Morocco, on April 7, 2022.
BORJA PUIG DE LA BELLACASA / LA MONCLOA / AFPSpain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (3rd-L) attends a meeting with Morocco's King Mohammed VI (C) at the Royal Palace in Rabat, Morocco, on April 7, 2022.

Spain’s stance on Western Sahara marks a policy shift in favor of Morocco’s claim on the territory

Morocco and Spain said Thursday that they agreed to turn a new page in relations after Madrid supported Rabat’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara, ending a year-long diplomatic crisis.

During a meeting in Morocco’s capital Rabat, King Mohammed VI and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez “reiterated their willingness to usher a new phase, based on mutual respect, mutual trust, permanent consultation, and frank and faithful cooperation," the Royal Palace said.

Sanchez also emphasized his support of Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara, calling it “the most serious, realistic, and credible” basis for solving the dispute over the African region.

Spain’s stance on Western Sahara marks a policy shift in favor of Morocco’s claim on the territory. 

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony that Morocco considers its own, but where the Algeria-backed Polisario Front claims sovereignty.

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A joint Spain-Morocco statement said they will immediately resume sea travel.

Some three million Moroccans cross from Europe to Morocco each summer, mostly using Spanish ports. 

However, Morocco excluded Spanish ports for the last two years citing Covid concerns.

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Relations between the European and North African states turned sour when Spain admitted Polisario leader Brahim Ghali last year for medical treatment.

The Polisario Front and its ally Algeria reject Rabat’s autonomy proposal and insist on holding an independence referendum long promised by the UN.

Click here for an Explainer on Western Sahara.

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