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Morocco ready to restore diplomatic ties with Germany

December 24, 2021 GMT

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco says it is ready to restore diplomatic cooperation with Germany, apparently thanks to a perceived shift in position toward the disputed Western Sahara.

The announcement came as Morocco celebrates the anniversary of a landmark U.S. move to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the territory, in exchange for Morocco establishing formal relations with Israel.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara from Spain in 1975 and the Polisario Front independence movement fought Morocco for years before a 1991 U.N.-brokered ceasefire.

Morocco halted diplomatic cooperation with Germany earlier this year and recalled its ambassador over Germany’s stance on the Sahara question, notably in the aftermath of the U.S. decision.

Morocco’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that it was ready to revive the fractured ties.

The kingdom “appreciates the positive announcements and constructive positions recently made by the new federal government of Germany,” the ministry said. “These announcements make it possible to envisage a revival of bilateral cooperation and a return to normalcy of the diplomatic representations of the two countries.”

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The statement appeared to be referring to language posted on the German Foreign Ministry website last week, five days after the new German government took office.

The language on the German website calls Morocco “a central partner of the European Union and Germany in North Africa” and states that the German position on Western Sahara has been unchanged for decades – Germany supports U.N. efforts to bring about “a fair, durable political solution that is acceptable for all sides.”

It adds that Morocco made an “important contribution for such an agreement with an autonomy plan” in 2007

The Algeria-backed Polisario Front and Sahrawis who seek independence want a U.N.-sponsored referendum instead, so that Sahrawis can decide on the territory’s future. The referendum has long been promised but has never happened.

The German Foreign Ministry welcomed Morocco’s announcement and said diplomatic representations in Rabat and Berlin “should return as quickly as possible to their usual, professional channels of communication.”

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Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.