Rabat, Jan 10 (AFP/APP): The United States on Sunday started the “process of establishing” a consulate in contested Western Sahara after Washington recognized Morocco’s sovereignty there in exchange for Rabat normalizing ties with Israel. US ambassador David Fischer visited the port of Dakhla, 1,440 kilometers (895 miles) southwest of Rabat in the far south of Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, to mark the start of work on a diplomatic office.
“It is such an honour for me to visit this stunningly beautiful and critically important region of Morocco, and to begin the process of establishing a US diplomatic presence here,” Fischer said, according to the US embassy.
Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the pro-independence Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.
Last year, Morocco joined the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in agreeing to normalize ties with Israel under US-brokered deals.
In return, US President Donald Trump fulfilled a decades-old Moroccan goal by backing its contested sovereignty over the barren but phosphate-rich region, which lies next to key Atlantic fishing zones.
Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Sunday that “Morocco feels stronger in its legitimate fight for its territorial integrity… with the support of its friends.”
The Algerian-backed Polisario Front fought a war for independence from 1975 to 1991 and controls about one fifth of the desert territory.
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