Morocco returns envoy to Spain after Madrid shifts Western Sahara stance

Morocco's ambassador to Spain will return to Madrid after Spain clarified that it supported Rabat's autonomy proposal for Western Sahara, a Spanish government source said on Sunday.

Ambassador Karima Benyaich was recalled to Morocco in May 2021 in protest after Madrid admitted a Western Sahara independence leader for medical treatment using Algerian documents. Morocco said it was not informed in advance.

Spain told Morocco on Friday that it regarded Rabat's autonomy proposal for Western Sahara to be "serious, credible and realistic," the Rabat government said, in a move expected to resolve the diplomatic dispute.

The language reflected a shift in Spanish policy towards the dispute in Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco considers its own but where the Polisario independence movement backed by its neighbor Algeria demands a sovereign state.

A Spanish government source told Reuters that Benyaich was now set to return to her post in Madrid. Officials at Morocco's foreign ministry were not immediately available to comment.

On Saturday, Algeria said it would withdraw its ambassador to Madrid in protest at Spain's support for the Moroccan autonomy plan.

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