Washington, DC, March 25, 2016 (MACP) — In a phone call to King Mohammed VI on Wednesday, United States Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed that the US’s policy supporting a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty for the Western Sahara remains unchanged, and assured the King that the US will continue to work with Morocco to resolve this longstanding regional dispute.
The phone call came just a few days after State Department Spokesperson John Kirby issued a statement reiterating that the US considers Morocco’s autonomy plan “serious, realistic and credible,” and “a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity.” The State Department’s intervention was prompted by remarks made earlier this month by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon while in Algeria that brought into question the UN’s neutrality on the issue.
US policy on the Western Sahara dates back to 1999 and has continued under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. In a Joint Statement issued on November 22, 2013 following a meeting between President Obama and King Mohammed VI, the US reiterated that Morocco’s autonomy plan is “serious, realistic, and credible.” The two leaders also affirmed “their shared commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people of the Western Sahara.”
The policy—and support for Morocco’s autonomy plan—has also been reiterated by bipartisan majorities of both the US House and Senate. In April 2009, 233 members of the United States House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama reaffirming their support for Morocco’s autonomy proposal. The letter built on another letter from 2007 signed by 173 Members of the House (including the bipartisan House Leadership Chairman Tom Lantos and Ranking Member Ileana Ros‐Lehtinen) reiterating Congressional support for the Moroccan plan, and a letter from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other former policy makers. In March 2010, 54 members of the United States Senate affirmed their support for Morocco’s autonomy plan in a letter addressed to then‐Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to “make the resolution of the Western Sahara stalemate a U.S. foreign policy priority for North Africa.” In its legislative report for the 2016 Appropriations Bill passed in December 2015, Congress re-affirmed their strong bipartisan support for a negotiated solution to the dispute over the region based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty, and encouraged American private sector investment in Western Sahara.
“Morocco took a courageous step a decade ago when it offered its autonomy plan for the region, and the US has encouraged that vision since the beginning,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel. “I urge the Administration to not forget its encouragement to Morocco to take this course of action and to continue doing everything it can to help make it a reality.”
Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049
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