(Rabat) US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs Joey Hood said, on Wednesday, that the US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, the disputed area, remained “unchanged” during a visit to the kingdom.
Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States in December 2020 recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the former Spanish colony in exchange for the kingdom’s normalization of relations with Israel.
In response to a question by the press about the possibility of a change in the American position, Mr. Hood replied that “there is no change” after his meeting with the head of Moroccan diplomacy, Nasser Bourita, in Rabat.
He added that “the changes you could have envisaged are in the energy deployed for the UN operation to produce results,” calling for the appointment “as soon as possible” of a special envoy to “obtain a solution acceptable to all parties, leading to peace” in the region. .
The last UN special envoy for Western Sahara, German Horst Koehler, was not replaced after he resigned in May 2019 due to health reasons.
The question of Western Sahara, which the United Nations considers a “non-independent territory” in the absence of a final settlement, Morocco has been in conflict with the separatists of the Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, since the departure of Spain in 1975.
The Polisario is calling for a self-determination referendum planned by the United Nations, while Morocco, which controls more than two-thirds of the territory, is proposing an autonomy plan under its sovereignty.
The US official was in Algeria on Sunday and Monday, where he discussed the issue of Western Sahara with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra.
On the issue of normalization with the Hebrew state, Mr. Hood praised in Rabat “the measures taken by Morocco to improve its relations with Israel”, a rapprochement “which will have long-term benefits for both countries”.
On Sunday, the first Israeli tourist arrived in Marrakesh, after the launch of the first direct commercial flights.
The senior US official also spoke about the strength of the strategic partnership between the two countries and their common interests for peace in the Middle East, security and development in the region and Africa.
In addition, Mr. Hood said his country had “invested $15 million” in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in Morocco, which is facing an upsurge in the epidemic, without elaborating.
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