US throws support behind Morocco's 'realistic' Western Sahara plan

US throws support behind Morocco's 'realistic' Western Sahara plan
US Sec. of State Blinken said Washington supported Morocco's 'realistic' plan for the disputed Western Sahara region, as tensions with Algeria continue.
2 min read
23 November, 2021
The two ministers affirmed their 'steadfast support' for the new UN envoy to Western Sahara in his challenging task [AFP/Getty]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday voiced his support for Morocco’s "serious, credible and realistic" plan for the Western Sahara region, following a recent dispute with Algeria.

"The state secretary affirmed that we continue to consider Morocco's autonomy plan as serious, credible and realistic, and includes an approach that can meet the aspirations of the people of the Western Sahara," read a statement issued by State Department spokesman Ned Price.

It followed a meeting between Blinken and his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, in Washington, where they agreed their "steadfast support" for the new UN envoy to Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, who faces a difficult task in helping negotiate an end to the conflict.

Moroccan King Mohamed VI said earlier this month that the issue of Western Sahara, in southern Morocco, is "not negotiable".

Morocco normalised diplomatic ties with Israel in December last year as part of the so-called US-backed Abraham Accords. The administration of former president Donald Trump, in turn, recognised the kingdom's sovereignty over Western Sahara.

While Morocco sees the former Spanish colony as its own sovereign territory and controls 80 percent of it, neighbouring Algeria backs the Polisario Front separatist movement in the conflict, which controls the remaining 20 percent of the Western Sahara region.

Tensions between Rabat and Algiers have soured in recent months. Algeria cut off ties with Morocco in August, partly to do with the Western Sahara dispute.

Algeria has long hosted and supported the Polisario Front, which seeks full independence for the territory and has demanded a UN-supervised self-determination referendum as provided for in a 1991 ceasefire deal.