US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Washington, during which bilateral relations were discussed as well as the situation in Western Sahara.
Speaking at the meeting, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, “Minister Blinken emphasized that the long-standing bilateral partnership is based on common interests in regional peace, security, and prosperity.”
Pointing out that the two ministers discussed a number of regional issues, including the deepening of relations between Morocco and Israel, Price said, “The two ministers expressed their strong support for Staffan de Mistura, the Special Envoy of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, to lead the UN-led political process for the new Western Sahara.”
Price also added that “Blinken noted that we continue to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible, realistic, and a potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people of Western Sahara. Blinken and Bourita also expressed their support for the newly formed Moroccan government’s efforts to advance the reform agenda of King Mohammed VI, discussed the importance of promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and the importance of building US-Moroccan dialogue on human rights.”
A conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front over Western Sahara has been going on since 1975. The conflict began after the Spanish occupation in the region ended.
The conflict turned into an armed confrontation that lasted until 1991 and ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement that determined Guerguerat as a demilitarized zone.
Rabat insists on its right to the Western Sahara region and proposes extended autonomy under its sovereignty, while the Polisario calls for a referendum to determine the fate of the region, a proposal supported by Algeria, which welcomes refugees from the region.