Washington endorses Moroccan autonomy offer to Western Sahara

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Flag of Morocco
Flag of Morocco

Visiting US deputy State Secretary for the Middle East, David Welch, has said that the Morocco’s autonomy offer to Western Sahara “provides a new opportunity” and reiterated Washington’s “support” for the negotiations undertaken by both sides towards that end. Welch was speaking when held talks Monday in Marrakech with King Mohammed VI of Moroco mainly on the Western Sahara issue. “The Moroccan proposal provides a new opportunity and has triggered new rounds of negotiations. We believe that it’s a very productive approach that needs to be examined,” the state-owned News Agency (MAP) quoted the US official as saying. Indeed, Morocco has offered to grant Western Sahara the status of large autonomy “under Moroccan sovereignty”. Polisario, an Algerian-backed separatist movement, has rejected the proposal and claimed a self-determination referendum. “New ideas have emerged and we hope that the parties will commit in a constructi ve way and in good faith to these negotiations”, Welch said. He, however, noted that “these talks are not easy” due to the complexity of the Western Sahara issue, saying that he would give the US stance to the Maghreb lea d ers “on what we think is the best means to move forward”. Besides, the US official who will also travel to Algeria and Tunisia, called for “strong and positive relations between Morocco and Algeria” despite the “Wester n Sahara issue”. As a former Spanish colony, Western Sahara is under Morocco’s “controversial” control since 1975. Panapress

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