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Congress, President Approve Extending US aid for Morocco to W Sahara, back autonomy

Washington, DC (Dec. 23, 2011)—Congress has approved and the President today signed a bill taking action to extend US assistance for Morocco’s reforms to the Western Sahara and advance the longstanding US policy calling for a solution to the Western Sahara conflict based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. The action —included in the 2012 Omnibus Spending Report—for the first time directs that US program assistance to Morocco may be used in all “regions and territories administered by Morocco,” including the Western Sahara.

The report puts tangible actions behind US policy supporting Moroccan autonomy in Western Sahara, which is backed by strong bipartisan majorities in the US Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the past three Administrations. It notes Congress “remains concerned with resolving the dispute over the Western Sahara” that for decades has been an obstacle to cooperation, stability, and security in the region, and urges the State Department “to prioritize a negotiated settlement” to the dispute based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.

“The US must continue to seek a fair, just, and enduring solution to the Western Sahara in order to promote regional integration and protect US security interests in the region,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in the Congressional Record. “Morocco is an important strategic partner, and I support its continuing reform efforts to make it a more democratic and prosperous nation. Last month’s elections in Morocco were another important step toward building a more democratic and inclusive country.”

For the first time, US program support forMorocco’s reforms may be extended to economic and social development in theWestern Sahara. [Continue Reading...]

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

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