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Morocco expels Swedish diplomat

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07:11 CET+01:00
Morocco on Wednesday ordered the immediate departure of a Swedish diplomat accused of handing over official Moroccan documents to Western Saharan separatists.

Swedish ambassador Michael Odevald was summoned by Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri to be told of "a serious breach in diplomatic practice and an unacceptable professional error committed by an advisor at Sweden's embassy in Rabat, Mrs Anna Block-Mazoyer," a statement said.

Block-Mazoyer "gave an official document that was given by the foreign and cooperation ministry to the Swedish embassy in Rabat as part of a diplomatic

process to separatist elements linked to Algeria and the Polisario Front."

"This document then turned up in the hands of enemies of the kingdom's territorial integrity," it said.

The Polisario Front seeks independence for the Western Sahara, a territory annexed by Morocco after Spanish settlers left in 1975.

The statement said that the foreign ministry had organised a briefing on Sahara developments to which diplomats were invited, including from Sweden which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency.

"Block-Mazoyer's giving away this official document breaches ethical and

diplomatic professional rules (so) Moroccan authorities demand (her) immediate

departure."

The Swedish foreign ministry confirmed it had been informed of the Moroccan request.

"These are bilateral issues, it has nothing to do with the EU presidency as far as I know," spokesperson Cecilia Julin told AFP in Stockholm.

Asked if the diplomat was going to leave the country, she said "normally you respect decisions like that."

UN-backed talks on the territory's future are currently stalled. Four rounds of negotiations on the territory held in Manhasset, a suburb of New York, could not bridge the gap between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

An informal bid to unblock negotiations took place on August 10th in Vienna.

Morocco offers considerable autonomy to the Sahrawi people. The Polisario Front wants a referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options.

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