US urges talks between Morocco, Polisario over Western Sahara

Indigenous Sahrawi people in Tindouf, Algeria
Indigenous Sahrawi people in Tindouf, Algeria

Washington supports negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front with a view to resolving the decades-long dispute over the Western Sahara region, the US embassy in Algiers said Thursday.

The embassy made the assertion following a visit by US Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher to Saharawi refugee camps in the country’s southwest.

In a statement, the embassy said the US “strongly supports” UN-backed talks between the two sides with a view to achieving a “just and mutually acceptable” solution that would grant the people of Western Sahara the “right of self-determination”.

Since last year, the embassy noted, more than $8.5 million worth of US humanitarian assistance had been allocated to Saharan refugees.

Since the early 1970s, the Polisario Front, a self-proclaimed national liberation movement backed by Algeria, has demanded an independent state in Western Sahara.

Rabat, for its part, insists on its right to the disputed region, but in recent years has proposed a “self-rule” system by which it would remain under Moroccan sovereignty.

The Polisario, meanwhile, want to hold a popular referendum in Western Sahara to decide the region’s political fate.