Morocco pulls troops from contested area of Western Sahara
Morocco said on Sunday it will pull back from a zone of the contested Western Sahara that has raised tensions with Algeria-backed Polisario Front separatists.
"Morocco will proceed from today with a unilateral withdrawal from the [Guerguerat] zone," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said the decision was taken by King Mohamed VI at the request of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Rabat now "hopes the secretary-general's intervention will allow a return to the previous situation in the zone concerned, keep its status intact, allow the flow of normal road traffic and thus safeguard the ceasefire," it said.
In a telephone call to Guterres on Friday, the king called on the UN to take urgent measures to end "provocation" by the Polisario Front threatening a 1991 ceasefire.
Morocco insists that the former Spanish colony is an integral part of its kingdom, but the Polisario is demanding a referendum on self-determination.
The two sides fought for control of the Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat gaining control of the territory before the UN-brokered ceasefire took effect.
In the phone call, Mohamed condemned "repeated incursion by armed Polisario men" in the Guerguerat district.
Tensions flared last year after the Polisario set up a new military post in Guerguerat district near the Mauritanian border, within a stone's throw of Moroccan soldiers.
The move came after Morocco last summer started building a tarmac road in the area south of the buffer zone separating the two sides.