30 November 2017

South Africa: The AU-EU Summit - Zuma and Moroccan King Hold 'Icebreaker' Talks

analysis

After years of acrimony, President Jacob Zuma held positive talks with Moroccan King Mohammed VI at the African Union-European Union summit. By PETER FABRICIUS in Abidjan.

President Jacob Zuma and Moroccan King Mohammed VI had an "icebreaking" meeting at the AU-EU summit, resetting relations which have been sour for the past 13 years.

Morocco unilaterally downgraded relations with South Africa in 2004 when Pretoria gave diplomatic recognition to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) which claims the Western Sahara as its territory.

Morocco insists that Western Sahara is part of Morocco and continues to occupy the territory, forcing the SADR to operate from neighbouring Algeria.

The African Union nonetheless recognized the SADR as a member state in 1984 - prompting Morocco to walk out of the organisation - but Pretoria took another 20 years to recognize the landless state.

Morocco retaliated by withdrawing its ambassador from Pretoria. Officials said South Africa only realized Morocco had downgraded relations when Morocco then refused to give official recognition to its ambassador in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Zuma's meeting with the king is part of Morocco's major diplomatic offensive to return to Africa. In February this year, the North African country returned to the...

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