Peru cuts ties with Western Sahara area after talks with Morocco

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Peru announced on Thursday to break its diplomatic relations with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which claims the disputed territory of Western Sahara, in order to strengthen its ties with Morocco.

"The government of the Republic of Peru has decided to withdraw its recognition" of the SADR "and to sever all relations with this entity," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Diplomatic relations between Peru and the SADR were restored only 11 months ago by radical left-wing President Pedro Castillo.

The SADR, self-proclaimed in 1976, is an offshoot of the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi organisation that calls for the independence of Western Sahara, which is almost entirely controlled by Morocco. This former Spanish colony is considered a "non-self-governing territory" by the UN.

Morocco controls 80% of the territory and advocates autonomy under its exclusive sovereignty, while the Polisario independence fighters, supported by Algeria, are calling for a referendum on self-determination.

Peru's decision was announced after a "recent telephone conversation" between Foreign Minister Miguel Rodriguez Mackay and his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita.

Lima and Rabat "agreed to strengthen their bilateral relations through the immediate signing of a multisectoral roadmap that will include regular political consultations, effective cooperation in the economic, commercial, educational, energy and agricultural fields," it continued.

The communiqué stressed that Peru "appreciates and respects the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco and its national sovereignty" and supports the autonomy plan presented by Rabat to resolve the conflict.

Peru recognised the SADR on 16 August 1984 but President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) suspended diplomatic relations in 1996. In one of his first foreign policy decisions, Pedro Castillo re-established them in September 2021.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rabat, Morocco "welcomes the decision of the Republic of Peru to withdraw its recognition of the pseudo 'SADR' (...) and to support the territorial integrity of the Kingdom and its autonomy initiative.

On the other hand, the new left-wing Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who took office at the beginning of August, has just decided to resume diplomatic relations with the SADR which had been frozen since 2001.

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