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Spain's PM: 'We are concerned with stability of Maghreb region, Sahara negotiations should be resumed' 

MADRID, SPAIN- JUNE 6: Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez holds a press conference in Palace of Moncloa, İN Madrid, Spain on June 6, 2019. ( Burak Akbulut - Anadolu Agency )
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez holds a press conference in Palace of Moncloa, İN Madrid, Spain on June 6, 2019 [Burak Akbulut - Anadolu Agency]

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called for resuming negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front to reach a "fair and lasting solution" on the Western Sahara dispute. Sanchez also hopes that negotiations will achieve stability in the Maghreb region, expressing his aim to hold the postponed summit with Morocco this year.

Sanchez's statements come at a time when the Western Sahara file has become a decisive factor in bilateral relations between the two sides.

The prime minister's statements came during a meeting held on Monday with Spain's ambassadors around the world to outline the country's foreign policy; the second discussion of its kind since 2008.

The Spanish official highlighted the importance of developing relations with China and India, which will be the next countries he will visit this year, while stressing the need to upgrade relations with the African continent, which "offers opportunities and challenges at the same time."

Sanchez expressed his hope that the world returns to the multi-polar policy with the arrival of the new US president Joe Biden, and discussed the file of the Maghreb region, which is one of the biggest challenges to Spanish foreign policy.

READ: Leader of Morocco's Justice and Development Party freezes his membership in rejection of normalisation

He also deliberated on Madrid's keenness to maintain balanced decisions on both Morocco and Algeria, he conveyed his intention to hold a summit at the level of the heads of governments with Tunisia and Morocco, and then develop relations with Algeria.

Sanchez revealed the importance of Spain's influence on European institutions, such as the European Council regarding the Maghreb countries, while confirming the need to work on achieving political stability, most notably to hold legislative elections in Libya.

He placed a special emphasis on the Western Sahara conflict, stating: "It is a must to resume negotiations on the Western Sahara file, which has witnessed new developments in recent weeks, under the auspices of the secretary-general of the United Nations, to reach a permanent and fair solution that both parties would accept in line with the Security Council resolutions. A position that Spain has always adopted."

Earlier, Madrid called on Washington to withdraw its recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The position of the Spanish prime minister came as a response to Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, who last week called on Europe to engage in supporting the autonomous rule in Western Sahara as Washington did last month, in order to find a solution to the conflict rather than supporting the resumption of negotiations.

A number of political sources highlighted Spain's adoption of a balanced position between Morocco and Algeria, similar to that of France, which, despite its support for Morocco, has not yet supported the position of US President Donald Trump, who recognised Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Madrid and Rabat have not yet held negotiations to address the new developments in the Western Sahara file.

READ: US delegation in Algeria to discuss Western Sahara file

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