US to establish consulate in Western Sahara – Pompeo

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FILE - In this June 25, 2019, file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy Kabul during an unannounced visit to Afghanistan. On Monday, March 23, 2020, Pompeo arrived in Kabul on an urgent visit to try to move forward a U.S. peace deal signed last month with the Taliban. Pompeo's trip to the Afghan capital comes despite the coronavirus pandemic, at a time when world leaders and statesmen are curtailing official travel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

dpa/GNA – The United States government has started the process of setting up a consulate in the disputed Western Sahara region.

“Pleased to announce the beginning of the process to establish a U.S. consulate in Western Sahara, and the inauguration of a virtual presence post effective immediately!” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter Thursday.

The US government recently recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over North Africa’s disputed Western Sahara territory – reversing decades of US policy – as part of a US-brokered agreement between Morocco and Israel to normalize their diplomatic relations.

Morocco took over Western Sahara in 1975 after Spain withdrew from the region and claims the phosphate-rich area as part of its territory. The Algeria-backed Polisario Front movement seeks the region’s independence.

Most Arab countries have vowed to never recognize Israel until a peace deal is struck with the Palestinians, however, the recent normalization agreements, which began with the UAE in the summer, have shifted dynamics in the region.

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