The US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, spoke with the Algerian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Attaf, and called for a greater commitment from Algeria

US urges Algeria to strongly support efforts of UN envoy for Western Sahara

REUTERS/JOHANNA GERON - La vicesecretaria de Estado de los Estados Unidos, Wendy Sherman, celebra una conferencia de prensa en la sede de la OTAN en Bruselas
REUTERS/JOHANNA GERON - US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman holds a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels

The United States has urged Algeria to give strong support to the efforts of Staffan de Mistura, special envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, to deepen the negotiations on the Saharawi dispute. 

In this respect, Wendy Sherman, US Deputy Secretary of State, spoke with Ahmed Attaf, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and there was a call for greater involvement of Algeria in the Western Sahara question in order to reach an agreement between the opposing parties, due to the important role of the Maghreb country in this matter. 

Recent UN resolutions stated that Algeria should contribute more to the UN-led political negotiation process to end the dispute over Western Sahara. In this regard, the work of Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura is quite remarkable and praised by the parties involved. De Mistura recently held informal bilateral consultations with representatives of Algeria, Mauritania and members of the "Group of Friends", including Spain, the US, Russia, the UK and France. In other words, with all parties that have a stake in the Saharawi issue. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, received his personal envoy for Western Sahara to discuss the results of the talks, as the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) pointed out. The talks were held a few weeks ago with the aim of putting an end to a conflict that has lasted more than four decades. 

AFP/ODD ANDERSEN - Ahmed Attaf, ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Argelia
AFP/ODD ANDERSEN - Ahmed Attaf, Algeria's foreign minister

The US recommendation to Algeria seeks to prevent Algeria from continuing to evade some of its responsibility in the Sahara dispute and follows a phone call between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Algeria's Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf.

According to a State Department statement, the US diplomat also congratulated Algeria on its election to the UN Security Council and stressed the need to address the "full range of challenges" facing the UN-led process for Western Sahara. This also included showing "full support for the UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, as he intensifies efforts to achieve a lasting and dignified political solution for Western Sahara", as the official note indicated. 

AFP/FADEL SENNA - Puesto fronterizo entre Marruecos y Mauritania en Guerguerat, situado en el Sáhara Occidental
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Moroccan-Mauritanian border post at Guerguerat, Western Sahara

Algeria is a very important party to the political process concerning Western Sahara because it supports the Polisario Front, a separatist political-military entity that advocates the holding of a referendum on independence for the Sahrawi population. This option is opposed to that of Morocco, which claims the territory as part of the Kingdom. Morocco proposes a formula of broad autonomy for Western Sahara under its sovereignty, respecting UN resolutions. 

Morocco's proposal has received strong international support from countries such as the United States, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and even Spain, the former colonial power in the territory, which consider the Moroccan alternative to be the most serious, credible and realistic way of resolving the problem. All this, while the Polisario Front's option enjoys less international support.

The Moroccan kingdom recently set out the main points of its plan for Western Sahara. Morocco's plan respects UN resolutions on the Saharawi question and the Moroccan spirit in this regard seeks to create the conditions for a process of dialogue and negotiation leading to a mutually acceptable political solution. Morocco offers a detailed programme of key points explaining the North African country's project and how the Statute of Autonomy would be implemented in Western Sahara, respecting the rights of the region's inhabitants, developing the economic and investment sphere and respecting the region's own administrative and judicial management within the Moroccan state system. 

For its part, Algeria has indicated at various times that it is only an observer of the situation, although it is considered by various sectors to be a major player in the Saharawi question due to its involvement with the Polisario Front, and has repeatedly rejected the UN special envoy's invitation to participate in round tables with the rest of the parties involved, as has been reported by various media such as Morocco World News.