Rabat - The Algeria-Morocco border, closed for two decades
amid deadlock over the Western Sahara, is a pressing issue that could be
resolved soon, Algerian Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia said on Sunday.
"The opening of the borders is a critical issue. If we
can speed up the negotiations process... [it] could be resolved in the near
future," Kablia told a news conference in Rabat, after a meeting on
regional security of interior ministers from the Arab Maghreb Union.
Kablia said recent meetings with his Moroccan counterpart
Mohand Laenser, who visited Algiers earlier this month, sent a "strong
signal" on thawed relations, and helped create an environment
"conducive" to progress on the issue.
The vast desert border between the two countries has been
closed since 1994 following an attack in Marrakesh which Morocco blamed on
Western powers, most recently France's President Francois
Hollande during a visit to Morocco earlier this month, have sought to pressure
the north African neighbours into reopening their common frontier to boost
trade and cooperation.
Algeria and Morocco have been at odds over the Western
Sahara since Rabat occupied the former Spanish colony in 1975, in a move not
recognised by the international community, with Algiers backing the
pro-independence Polisario Front.
Kablia's conciliatory comments came despite mounting
ill-feeling in Morocco over US plans to broaden the scope of the UN mission in
the disputed region to include human rights monitoring.
The proposal has prompted a furious response from Rabat,
with the foreign ministry saying on Friday that it threatened the peace process
and labelling the Polisario Front a "terrorist organisation."
Asked how long Algeria would continue to support the Polisario
Front, which is based in its western Tindouf region, Kablia avoided the
question, saying merely that Algiers was "not a party to the
conflict," which should be resolved through UN mediation.