Morocco’s FM in Algeria amid Reports of Tense Border Situation
Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Issa arrived in Algiers Saturday to deliver a verbal message from King Mohammad to Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, amid reports of mounting tension on the border between the countries.
The contents of the message were not disclosed, said the official KUNA news agency.
Ben Issa told reporters upon arrival his visit was part of "ongoing consultations" with his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Belkhadem.
The Saudi newspaper Al Watan quoted eyewitnesses in its Sunday’s edition as saying that the Moroccan-Algerian borders particularly on the Algerian side saw military forces mobilizing near the Moroccan town of Wajda.
Residents of Ein Bani Mathar near the Algerian town of Alarishah said that they saw hundreds of military vehicles in the area, a scene which has created speculations among these people.
The Moroccan town of Wajda serves as an important border point for the passage of people and goods during the period of cease-fire between the two countries. It was considered as the most viable area for the movement of people from both countries but when it was closed, the gap between Algeria and Morocco widened, according to the paper.
Observers of the relations between the two Arab neighbors have not been surprised at the Algerian mobilization. This is due to the fact that the armament race between the two countries took place a long time ago when Algeria signed an agreement with Russia to purchase advanced weapons worth one billion-dollar and the Moroccan agreement with India and Russia to purchase advanced weapons. This explains the fact that both countries have been preparing themselves for any surprise.
Differences between the two countries over the situation in the Western Sahara and the Polisario issue have led to tension and a kind of cold war between them.
Morocco refused last March to participate at the foreign ministers’ level in the periodical meeting of the ministerial council of the Arab Maghreb Union. It reiterated that the Algerian initiative, which aims at the activation of this union, should resolve the Western Sahara issue first.
For its part, Algeria argues that the solution of the issue between Morocco and the Polisario Front demanding independence should be based on the international Peace Plan and Houston agreement signed in October 1998.
Morocco has recently agreed on wide scale autonomy for the Western Sahara instead of complete separation – Albawaba.com