Sahara: France Renews its Unwavering Support for Moroccan Autonomy Initiative

France on Wednesday renewed its unwavering support for the Morocco-proposed initiative offering a large autonomy to the Sahara provinces in a bid to settle definitely the Western Sahara artificial conflict.

The support was reiterated by French Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean-Yves le Drian, at a meeting with the new UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for the Sahara Horst Köhler in Paris on Wednesday (January 17).

During the meeting, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is also Minister for Europe, reaffirmed to Horst Köhler France’s support to the Moroccan autonomy plan, insisting that the Moroccan initiative “constitutes a serious and credible basis” for a negotiated settlement of the Sahara issue.

Paris had welcomed, last August, the appointment of Horst Köhler as Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Sahara, and assured him of France’s “full support” in this mission.

A statement, published then by the French Foreign Ministry, stressed that France considers the autonomy plan presented by Morocco in 2007 as a serious and credible basis for a negotiated solution.

The statement had also stressed the importance to revive, without delay, the UN-led political process for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution, as reaffirmed by Security Council resolution 2351 of 28 April 2017.

During his meeting Wednesday with Horst Köhler, the French Foreign Minister also recalled “France’s commitment to full compliance with the ceasefire agreements”.

He was thus sending an indirect warning to the Polisario, which deployed militiamen in Guerguarat, a demilitarized border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania.

Morocco had denounced the Polisario’s provocations in the Guerguarat crossing as a blatant violation of the UN brokered ceasefire agreement and a disregard for the calls made by the UN Secretary General for the withdrawal of all troops from the demilitarized buffer strip.

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had actually issued a statement calling on the Polisario to retreat from the area and warning against obstructing commercial traffic flow between Morocco and Mauritania.

“Regular civilian and commercial traffic should not be obstructed and no action should be taken, which may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip,” Guterres had said in his statement.

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