Algeria suspends Spain cooperation over Western Sahara dispute
Move comes after Madrid backed Moroccan sovereignty over disputed territory
Algeria said Wednesday it was suspending a decades-old cooperation treaty with Spain, after Madrid backed the position of the North African country's arch-rival Morocco on the disputed Western Sahara.
"Algeria has decided to immediately suspend the treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation," the Algerian presidency said in a statement.
Click here for an Explainer about the Western Sahara conflict.
Madrid and Algiers signed the deal in 2002 to promote dialogue and cooperation on political, economic, financial, education, and defense issues.
A Spanish diplomatic source told AFP that the government of Pedro Sanchez "regrets the Algerian decision."
Algeria's move came in retaliation after Spain in March publicly recognized Morocco's autonomy plan for the disputed territory, helping end a year-long diplomatic spat between the two kingdoms.
But Algeria said Wednesday that Spain's move was "in violation of its legal, moral, and political obligations" toward the territory, a former Spanish colony.
That reflects the complex challenge Madrid faces in balancing its ties with both states, bitter rivals.
Algeria, which backs the Polisario movement seeking independence in the Western Sahara, in August last year broke off diplomatic ties with Rabat over "hostile acts."
Morocco controls 80 percent of the Western Sahara.
The rest is held by the Polisario, which fought a 15-year war with Morocco after Spanish forces withdrew in 1975 and demands a referendum on independence.