France’s stance on Morocco’s autonomy plan was highlighted on Thursday through a final statement issued at the end of the 13th France-Morocco High Level Meeting, which took place in Rabat from November 15 to 16. The meeting was co-chaired by French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and Saad Eddine El Othmani, Moroccan Head of Government.
During the two-day event, France also reiterated its support for the efforts—led by the UN—to find a solution to the four-decade long conflict between Morocco and the so-called Polisario Front.
In a statement reported by Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), Morocco and France stressed the importance of resuscitating the UN-brokered plan in accordance with the parameters set by the U.N. Security Council as laid down in Resolution 2351, dated April 28, 2017.
Resolution 2351, which extended the mandate of the U.N. Mission in the Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2018, was unanimously adopted by the Security Council and calls on the disputing parties to resume negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary General “without preconditions” in order to establish “a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution,” according to the United Nations.
France also lauded Morocco’s commitment to work with Horst Kohler, the new Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara. Morocco’s autonomy plan, first outlined in 2006, followed the failure of numerous U.N.-led initiatives and proposals to end the long conflict over the Sahara. Since then, the autonomy plan has been welcomed by the international community, which has long described the Moroccan proposal as the “serious and credible” solution for the conflict.
In March 2016, French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Romain Nadal told the press, “For France, the autonomy plan submitted by Morocco in 2007 represents a serious and credible basis for a negotiated solution” to the Sahara issue. He added that France’s position regarding this issue is “well known and has never changed,” adding that Paris supports “ a just, sustainable and mutually accepted solution under the auspices of the United Nations.”