Rabat – Papua New Guinea, in an apparent first for the country, expressed its support for Morocco in the Western Sahara conflict. The development came during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth) Committee.
A representative of the country expressed Papua New Guinea’s recognition of the Moroccan character of the Sahara and said Morocco’s Autonomy Plan promotes a realistic, lasting solution to the territorial dispute.
Speaking to the UN Commission, the Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea to the UN, Max Hufanen Rai, also pointed out Morocco’s achievements, efforts, and investments in its southern provinces.
“We congratulate Morocco for the continued strengthening of sustainable development, the improvement of political participation, the promotion of human rights, and the fight against COVID-19 in the Sahara,” he said, according to Morocco’s state media.
He also expressed his country’s support for the UN-led political process and hopes that former Special Envoy Horst Kohler’s successor will build on the “important momentum” the region witnessed in recent years.
The diplomat recalled Laayoune’s hosting of the 3rd Morocco-Pacific Island States Forum and the resulting Laayoune Declaration of February 26, 2020.
The declaration “reaffirmed the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states, and in this spirit recognized the Sahara region as an integral part of Morocco,” Rai said.
Diplomatic relations between Morocco and Papua New Guinea, located in the southwestern Pacific, are only two years old.
Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Papua New Guinea, Rimbink Pato Obe, formally established ties on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in September 2018.
The current state of affairs thus leaves much to be desired, with few exchanges of visits and low levels of cooperation in trade and other fields.
However, seeing as the country has now taken a firm stance on the Western Sahara issue, relations between Morocco and Papua New Guinea may soon blossom.