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Algeria suspends friendship treaty with Spain over Western Sahara

Spain’s foreign minister says he does not expect Algeria, a major gas supplier, to break export contracts

OVIEDO, Spain

Spain’s foreign minister said he “regrets” Algeria’s decision Wednesday to “immediately” suspend a two-decade-old friendship and cooperation treaty with his country.

The further breakdown of relations between Spain and Algeria came after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez defended his recent foreign policy shift to support Morocco’s vision for the future of the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Earlier in the day, Sanchez told lawmakers that Rabat’s idea for Western Sahara to be an autonomous region within Morocco is the “most serious, realistic and credible proposal to solve this ongoing conflict.”

Although Spain changed its position from supporting an independent Western Sahara in March, the prime minister’s comments prompted Algeria’s government to announce it was breaking the cooperative treaty with Spain.

“The Spanish government is directly contributing to the worsening of the situation in Western Sahara and in the region as a whole,” said a statement released by Algeria’s government.

While Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares was upset about Algeria’s move, he said Spain will continue to uphold the principles of the friendship and cooperation treaty on its side.

Albares also reassured Spaniards that Algerian gas supplies are not at risk.

“The Algerian government is known as a trustworthy partner, a trustworthy supplier. They have offered the highest level of guarantees, so nothing indicates that it will be any other way,” he told the media on the question of Algerian gas imports.

Algeria has long been Spain’s top natural gas supplier, but now it is the second-largest source. In recent months, the US has stepped up into the number one position.

In 2021, Algeria cut off gas supplies to neighboring Morocco as well as diplomatic relations.

The Western Sahara, which Algeria supports as an independent country, is one of their main sources of contention.

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