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Morocco backtracks and reaffirms Mauritania's sovereignty

Morocco's King Mohammed VI called Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz yesterday and reiterated Rabat's belief in Mauritanian sovereignty over its land after controversial remarks delivered by a Moroccan opposition politician, the Huffington Post Arabic reported.

The telephone call aimed to "reinforce the mutual relations between the two countries," the Post cited a Mauritanian news agency as saying, without giving more details.

A Mauritanian government official, preferring not to be named, said: "The telephone call came as a measure to contain the tension which followed the remarks of Hamid Chabat, the leader of the Moroccan Independence Party, who considered Mauritania as Moroccan territory."

In response to the remarks, the ruling party in Mauritania announced freezing all contacts with the Moroccan opposition party in the wake of Chabat's remarks.

Chabat's remarks were considered as "damaging to the historical relationship between the two nations in the light of difficult regional and international circumstances," while stressing the importance of coming to an understanding between Nouakchott and Rabat.

The Moroccan king's telephone call followed a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, which stated Morocco's respect for Mauritania's territorial integrity.

Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane will likely also be travelling to Mauritania in an effort to calm tensions.

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