Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Burrita on Friday that the Biden administration would not, at least for now, revoke Trump’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, two people familiar with the call told me.
Why it matters: Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco turned decades of US policy toward the disputed territory and was part of a broader deal that included resuming diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel.
- The US decision last December was a long-sought diplomatic breakthrough for Morocco. The kingdom was worried that it could be abolished after Biden took office.
- Israel was also concerned that reversing the policy would harm the normalization process with Morocco.
- The United States is the only Western country to recognize Morocco̵
Background: There was almost no contact between the Biden administration and the Moroccan government during the first three months of the new administration.
- Ten days ago, Biden’s Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, spoke to Burita and gave the impression that there would be no change in US policy toward Western Sahara, a source familiar with the call told me.
- The State Department’s reading of Blinken’s call with Burita on Friday did not mention Western Sahara, but two sources familiar with the call confirmed that it had been discussed and that Blinken said the Biden administration would not change Trump’s policy for now.
- According to the State Department, Blinken “welcomes Morocco’s steps to improve relations with Israel and notes that Morocco-Israel relations will bring long-term benefits to both countries.”
Game status: Senior White House and State Department officials have held numerous discussions on the issue over the past few weeks.
- The solution to these discussions is not to reverse Trump’s policy, but to work with Moroccans to appoint a new UN envoy to Western Sahara to try to resume talks on possible autonomy for the sparsely populated area, according to two familiar sources. with these discussions.
- The State Department directed Axios to the official reading and did not deny the content of this story.