World, Middle East

Saudi, Moroccan kings review ‘brotherly’ ties

Telephone call comes after crisis between two nations

Khalid Mejdoub, Gulsen Topcu   | 21.03.2019
Saudi, Moroccan kings review ‘brotherly’ ties

RABAT

Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Moroccan King Mohammed VI reviewed the “brotherly and friendly” relations between the two countries during a telephone call, state news agency SPA said Wednesday.

The call followed a crisis in relations between the two countries.

They stressed a keenness to strengthen and develop the “deep-rooted ties” between the nations and their people in all fields, SPA said.

Regional and international developments were also reviewed.

A row started when Morocco recalled its ambassador to the kingdom after a Saudi television channel reportedly broadcast a report “challenging Morocco’s territorial integrity.”

Ambassador Mustafa al-Mansouri told Morocco’s pro-government 360 website Feb.8: “I was recalled from Riyadh to take part in consultations regarding our two countries’ bilateral relations.”

Describing the matter as a “passing cloud”, al-Mansouri attributed the move to the report which he said “challenged the Kingdom of Morocco’s territorial integrity,” a reference to Morocco’s Western Sahara region.

A large territory in southern Morocco, the Western Sahara, remains the subject of dispute between Rabat and the Polisario Front -- an Algeria-backed movement which for decades has called for regional independence.

In a closely related development, however, Moroccan media reported Feb. 7 that Rabat decided to withdraw from a Saudi-led military coalition drawn up in 2015 to fight the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.

On Jan. 23, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bureita was quoted as saying his country had "changed" its policy regarding its participation in the coalition.

Also, on Nov. 22, 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman began his first foreign tour since the high-profile murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul a month earlier.

His tour included the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Argentina, Mauritania and Algeria.

Morocco, however, was not included in the tour, in a move seen as reflecting strained ties and a crisis in relations between Rabat and Riyadh.



*Writing by Zehra Nur Düz


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