15:16 GMT08 April 2020
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    Morocco recalled its ambassador to South Africa back in 2004 after the latter had decided to establish diplomatic relations with Western Sahara.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — South Africa will resume its diplomatic relations with Morocco after a 13-year break, South African President Jacob Zuma said Sunday in an interview with City Press newspaper, adding that Morocco would send an ambassador to Pretoria.

    "Morocco is an African nation and we need to have relations with them. We never had problems with them [Moroccans] anyway; they were the first to withdraw diplomatic relations," Zuma said.

    On November 29, Zuma and South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane met with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on the sidelines of the African Union — EU Summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

    "One of the reasons we met with them is that Morocco is now back in and is part of the AU [African Union]," Zuma noted.

    In January, Morocco rejoined the African Union more than three decades after it left the organization over the union's support for the independence of the contested territory of Western Sahara.

    Morocco claimed control of most of Western Sahara after the end of Spanish colonial administration of the territory in 1976. Fighting later broke out between Morocco and the Polisario Front rebel movement, ending with the signing of a ceasefire agreement in September 1991.

    The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara was deployed the same year in an attempt to achieve a lasting and mutually acceptable solution that would provide for the self-determination of Western Saharan people.


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