Algeria suspends friendship treaty with Spain over Western Sahara

Algeria suspends friendship treaty with Spain over Western Sahara

Western Sahara is designated by the UN as a non- self-governing territory whose people have not yet reached a full measure of self-government Morocco controls 80 percent of the territory, while the rest of Mauritania is almost totally landlocked by the Polisario Front. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU AFP ALGIERS MADRID - Algeria suspended a 20 year old friendship treaty with Spain that committed the two sides to cooperation in controlling migration flows, and also banned imports from Spain, escalating a row over Madrid's stance on Western Sahara.

Algerian state media reported the suspension of the treaty without any reason, though Algeria had withdrawn its ambassador to Spain in March for consultations because of the Western Sahara dispute.

Spanish diplomatic sources said Spain regretted the decision but remained committed to the content and principle of the treaty.

Algeria's banking association issued a statement saying banks that imports of goods and services from Spain were stopped because the treaty was suspended.

ALSO READ: Algeria recalls its ambassador to Morocco in row over Western Sahara.

The text recorded in Spain's official journal said that the treaty of 2002 called for both sides to strengthen their cooperation in control of migratory flows and fight against trafficking against human beings.

On Wednesday, 113 undocumented migrants arrived in Spain's Balearic Islands, a route that Spanish authorities said tended to be used by boats coming from Algeria.

Migrant flows have gone up across the Mediterranean this year as Russia's special military operation in Ukraine has hit the global economy.

Algeria was angry when Spain said in March it supported a Moroccan plan to give autonomy to Western Sahara. Algeria supports the Polisario Front movement, which wants full independence for the territory, which Morocco regards as its own and mostly controls.

ALSO READ: Algeria has recalled ambassador to France for consultations.

A former Algerian official told Reuters that the Spanish government had decided not to preserve good ties with Algeria.

Algeria is a key gas supplier to Spain, but Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has previously said he would not break the supply contract over the row.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said there was no indication that the change was taking place and Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said Algeria's gas supply conduct had been exemplary.

Algeria is expected to review prices for any new gas contract with Spanish firms, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The source who asked not to be identified said that the current contract is long-term with prices well under the current market level.

Since the Western Sahara conflict flared again in 2020, nearly three decades after a ceasefire, relations between Algeria and Morocco have deteriorated.

Spain's shift towards Morocco's position on Western Sahara ended a dispute between Madrid and Rabat last year involving both the disputed territory and migration.