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Thursday October 31, 2013 MYT 7:25:02 PM
Thursday October 31, 2013 MYT 7:25:55 PM
RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco said it is recalling its ambassador from Algeria after the country's president called for human rights monitors to be sent to the disputed Western Sahara region, which Rabat claims.
Western Sahara is a sparsely populated tract of desert about the size of Britain with large phosphate reserves and rich fishing grounds off its coast.
Morocco claims Western Sahara as its own and has annexed much of the territory, which the Algeria-backed Polisario Front is working to liberate.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika pressed for rights monitoring in the region in a message to a conference held in Abuja earlier this week, the Moroccan foreign ministry said.
As a result, "the kingdom of Morocco has decided to recall its ambassador in Algiers for consultations," the ministry said in a statement carried late on Wednesday by national news agency MAP.
The Polisario Front accuses Morocco of routine human rights violations in Western Sahara and has called for MINURSO, the United Nation mission in Western Sahara, to be given the authority to conduct independent human rights monitoring.
Morocco, backed by France, has rejected the idea.
(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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