US backs Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara

Rabat, Mar 8 (EFE).- The United States supports Morocco’s proposal to establish a measure of autonomy for residents in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, one of Washington’s senior diplomats said here Tuesday.

“We continue to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible, and realistic,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said during a joint press conference in Rabat with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, who in turn pointed to Washington’s “clear and constant position” on the issue.

The former Spanish colony of Western Sahara has been an object of contention between Rabat and the indigenous Sahrawis for more than four decades.

Morocco invaded the region in 1975 as Spain withdrew. The Polisario Front – supported by Algeria – responded with armed resistance and won a judgment from the World Court backing the Sahrawis’ demand for self-determination.

Algeria helped broker a cease-fire between Morocco and the Polisario in 1991, a pact that envisioned a referendum in Western Sahara on self-determination which has yet to take place.

“On the Western Sahara, United States and Morocco both strongly support the efforts of Stephan de Mistura, the United Nations Secretary-General’s personal envoy for the Western Sahara. And we do so with an open mind, to find a resolution that will lead to an enduring and dignified outcome to all parties,” Sherman said Tuesday.

The Moroccan capital was the third stop on a tour that previously took Sherman to Turkey and Spain. From Rabat, she is set to visit Algeria and Egypt.

Though the chief architect of the plan for a referendum in Western Sahara was former US Secretary of State James Baker, Washington’s position tilted decisively in favor of Rabat under President Donald Trump.

In 2020, during the final months of his term, Trump recognized Morocco’s claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara and said that the US would open a consulate in the territory in exchange for Rabat’s agreement to restore diplomatic relations with Israel. EFE mt/dr

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