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Spain voices support for Sahrawi people during Algeria visit

The Spanish minister of foreign affairs has voiced his support for the self-determination of the Sahrawi people.

Speaking in an interview with APS agency, Alfonso Dastis explained Spain's support for the UN in assisting "the parties in reaching a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara within the framework of In accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and in conformity with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council."

Dastis is currently on a two-day official visit to Algeria.

As a member of both the Group of Friends for Western Sahara and the Security Council, we have Defended the centrality of the United Nations and the paramount importance of MINURSO.

The Spanish diplomat also praised his country's solidarity with the Sahrawi people. "Through our humanitarian aid programmes to refugee camps…Spain confirms its position as one of the main donors."

Dastis' comments will come as a surprise to Spanish observers owing to the fact his sentiments break with the traditional official discourse of Spanish diplomacy. During a visit to Morocco last month, Dastis failed to raise the question of the Western Sahara with his Moroccan counterpart, Salaheddine Mezouar, according to the Spanish daily Heraldo.

The Moroccan minister however was quick to address Morocco's dispute with the European Union (EU) following the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) ruling that the Western Sahara is a "separate entity" of the Moroccan kingdom excluding the Sahrawi territory in the free trade agreement with Morocco.

Dastis comments are likely to be an attempt to play the balance between Algeria and Morocco with the latter pushing for Europe – Spain in particular – to play a greater role in the region's immigration issues.

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