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Morocco-Algeria relations tense despite breakthrough periods

Morocco's Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mbarka Bouaida, has described her country's bilateral relations with Algeria as "cold" despite periods of breakthrough. She demanded that the Algerian authorities should "bear direct responsibility" for the territorial dispute in the Sahara Desert at the centre of the long-running dispute between the two countries.

During a meeting in the Moroccan parliament on Tuesday, Bouaida accused Algeria of opposing any UN-led political solution to the territorial dispute. Furthermore, she said that the government in Algiers provides clear and direct support to the Polisario Front. Several crises have erupted between Morocco and Algeria over the Western Sahara, which Morocco sees as an integral part of its territory; it accuses Algeria of supporting the Polisario movement which fights to end Moroccan presence in the region.

While criticising what she said are Algeria's "repeated attempts to weaken Morocco and isolate it from its regional surroundings", Bouaida stressed that her country is keen, on the principle of mutual cooperation and "good neighbourly relations", to call on Algeria to reopen the border crossing between the two countries; the border has been closed since 1994. The minister delegate also said that the Arab Maghreb Union should be dealt with separately from relations between Morocco and Algeria.

At the same meeting, Bouaida also mentioned that Rabat has been in frequent talks with the Spanish authorities to resolve the issue of Spain's use of chemical weapons against the Moroccan resistance in the 1920s. She noted that this has humanitarian, historical, legal and political dimensions, and that there is a general mobilisation by the government, political parties and civil society to address this portfolio.

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