World Bulletin / News Desk
Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane has described recent remarks by an opposition leader -- in which he said Mauritania was "Moroccan territory" -- as "irresponsible", stressing the two countries’ "solid" bilateral ties.
On Saturday, Hamid Chabat, secretary-general of Morocco’s opposition Istiqlal Party, publicly stated that Mauritania had originally been part of Morocco.
"These lands [Mauritania] will remain Moroccan; all historians affirm this," Chabat reportedly said at a trade union meeting.
The remark quickly drew a rebuke from Mauritania’s ruling Union for the Republic Party, which described Chabat’s remarks as "an attempt to distract attention away from [Morocco’s] domestic failures".
In an effort to contain the burgeoning diplomatic row, Benkirane on Wednesday met with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Mauritania’s northern city of Zouerat.
After the meeting, Benkirane declared that relations between the two North African neighbors remained "solid and steadfast".
"And our brotherly ties will be further enhanced," he added. "Mauritanians in Morocco will be honored, as will Moroccans in Mauritania."