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UN to host talks for political solution between Polisario Front and Morocco

The United Nations will host the first political talks between Morocco and separatist Polisario Front in 6 years, reports the National.

Last month the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). The talks under the auspices of the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterre commence tomorrow.

Morocco originally claimed Western Sahara after European colonisers withdrew from the region in 1975. Their claims to the region were disputed by the Sahrawi population who declared the region the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), a year after the Spanish pulled out.

Resistance to Morocco’s claims to the region was lead by the Polisario Front when the United Nations intervened to facilitate the agreement of a ceasefire in 1991.

Last month the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). 

The last few years have seen Morocco labelled as China’s gateway to Africa. In 2016 Morocco hosted the first Sino-African Entrepreneurs Summit, in Marrakech. Later that year, Morocco’s King made a high level state visit to China and secured $10 billion investment plan for China to develop an industrial city in Morocco’s northern city of Tangiers. Morocco also dropped visa requirements for Chinese tourists in response to deepening relations. 

Morocco’s strengthening relations with modern day China stem from the inception of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Following the end of the civil war between PRC and Taiwan, Morocco was the second country in Africa to recognise the People’s Republic of China and establish diplomatic relations in 1958.

Despite China’s deepening economic ties with Morocco and historic trend of supporting non-intervention at the UN Security Council, it has continued to allow US backed Security Council resolutions on Western Sahara self-determination to pass by abstaining.