Morocco cuts Iran ties over alleged Polisario arms delivery

The Polisario and Morocco fought for control of Western Sahara from 1975 to 1991, with Rabat taking over the desert territory before a UN-brokered ceasefire in the former Spanish colony.

Published: 01st May 2018 09:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2018 10:13 PM   |  A+A-

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani | AP

By AFP

RABAT: Morocco has cut diplomatic ties with Iran over its alleged involvement in the delivery of weapons from its Lebanese ally Hezbollah to the Polisario Front, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Tuesday.

He told reporters that "a first shipment of weapons was recently" sent to the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, which is seeking independence, via an "element" at the Iranian embassy in Algiers.

Bourita was speaking upon his return from Tehran, where he said he informed his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif about Morocco's decision.

The Polisario and Morocco fought for control of Western Sahara from 1975 to 1991, with Rabat taking over the desert territory before a UN-brokered ceasefire in the former Spanish colony.

Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Polisario Front insists on a UN referendum on independence.

On Friday the UN Security Council backed a US-drafted resolution that urges Morocco and the Polisario Front to prepare for talks on settling the decades-old conflict.

It also renewed for six months the mandate of a UN mission that has been monitoring the ceasefire in Western Sahara since 1991.

Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict have been deadlocked since the last round of UN-sponsored talks in 2008.

Morocco maintains that negotiations on a settlement should focus on its proposal for autonomy for Western Sahara and rejects the Polisario's insistence on an independence referendum.

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