Morocco king invites Algeria for 'direct and frank dialogue'
Moroccan monarch King Mohammed VI appeared to extend an olive branch to neighbouring rival Algeria on Tuesday, expressing a willingness for "frank and open dialogue" between the two North African countries.
The king made the remarks in a speech marking the 43rd anniversary of the Green March, a mass demonstration of Moroccans who showed their support for the annexation of areas of the Western Sahara held by Spain at the time.
Rabat and Algiers have shared fraught relations due to disputes over the disputed territory, with Morocco accusing its neighbour of aiding Western Sahara separatists.
King Mohammed described the dispute as an "unreasonable situation [that] is utterly inconsistent with the brotherly bonds uniting our peoples".
"Let me point out - and God is my witness - that soon after I acceded to the throne, I asked earnestly and in good faith that the borders between our two countries be opened and that Moroccan-Algerian relations be normalised," the monarch said.
The Algeria-Morocco border was closed in 1994 following new visa requirements introduced by Rabat for Algerian citizens. The measures were introduced due to Moroccan suspicions that Algiers had perpetrated an attack on the Asni Hotel in Marrakech which killed a number of tourists and locals.
King Mohammed suggested the establishment of a mutually agreed upon mechanism for dialogue and consultation to deal with issues including migration and terrorism.
"I should like to stress that Morocco is willing to consider the proposals or initiatives Algeria may want to offer in this regard so as to break the stalemate in the relations between the two neighbours and sister nations," the king said.
Last month, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front - a separatist Sahrawi group considered as terrorists by Morocco - accepted a UN invitation to hold talks in December on ending the decades-old conflict in Western Sahara.
The United Nations has repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the north African territory, where Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario fought for control from 1975 to 1991.