The United States stressed on Friday that it shares Spain’s position on the Moroccan Sahara issue, and reiterated that the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco is “serious, credible and realistic”.
“We continue to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible and realistic, as well as having clear potential” to meet the aspirations of people in the region, said a spokesperson for the US State Department in a statement to the Spanish press agency “Europa Press”.
The spokesperson seized the opportunity to reaffirm Washington’s support for the UN special envoy for the Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, and his efforts to “promote a peaceful and prosperous future” for the region.
The State Department spokesman’s remarks to the Spanish news agency came after the President of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, and the Spanish Government presidency stated in an unambiguous way that Spain supports Morocco’s autonomy initiative as “the most serious, realistic and credible” basis for settling the Sahara issue and recognized the importance of the Sahara issue for Morocco.
Actually, Pedro Sanchez addressed on Friday a message to King Mohammed VI expressing Spain’s unequivocal position on the Sahara issue and on Moroccan-Spanish relations.
In his message to the Sovereign, Pedro Sanchez stated clearly that Spain supports Morocco’s autonomy initiative as “the most serious, realistic and credible” basis for settling the Sahara issue.
Later Friday afternoon, the Spanish government presidency issued a statement saying that Spain is committed to respecting Morocco’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” as part of a “new era” in bilateral ties.
“We are ushering today a new era in our ties with Morocco, based on mutual respect, the implementation of agreements, refraining from unilateral actions, transparency and permanent communication,” said the Spanish Presidency in the statement.
The Spanish government also announced the scheduling of a visit by Prime Minister Sanchez to Morocco in order to elaborate the roadmap for bilateral relations as well as the upcoming visit by Spanish foreign minister to Morocco by late March, before the month of Ramadan.
Morocco’s foreign ministry welcomed Spain’s support for the autonomy initiative as “constructive commitments on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara and as a “clear and ambitious roadmap” to improve and advance bilateral diplomatic ties between the two countries on the basis of transparency and mutual respect.
The new position expressed clearly by Madrid indicates a step forward by Spain to mend ties with Morocco after it has maintained connivance with Algeria and the Polisario.
Morocco and Spain’s relationship went through an unprecedented diplomatic crisis in 2021, after the European country decided to receive leader of the polisario separatist front in April that year for medical treatment under a false identity.
Spain’s actions greatly angered Rabat, which said that the move undermined Morocco’s trust in its long-term strategic ally.
Rabat recalled its ambassador to Spain and asked Madrid to refrain from its double-face.
Since then, the Spanish government has made several attempts to restore normality and positive diplomatic ties between the two countries, but Morocco was firm in its stand, requesting a clear-cut stand on the Sahara issue.
Analysts described Spain’s announcement as historic and as a resounding victory for Morocco and as a setback for the polisario and its mentor, Algeria.