Iran has denied Moroccan accusations of supporting the Polisario Front, a Western Sahara independence movement.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman told local media on Wednesday the allegations were “completely baseless” and Iran respects the sovereignty of all countries.
“One of the principles of Iranian foreign policy is recognising the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries and not intervening in their internal affairs,” spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said on Tuesday his country had evidence that Lebanese proxy Hezbollah was providing financial and logistic support to Polisario rebels through the Iranian embassy in Algiers.
Hezbollah denied it was training and arming Polisario fighters, and said Morocco had taken its decision under “American, Israeli and Saudi pressure”.
Bourita told Al Jazeera he met with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday and presented him with the evidence.
According to ISNA news agency, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied Morocco’s accusations, but his assurances failed to satisfy Bourita who returned to Rabat accompanied by the kingdom’s ambassador to Iran.
‘Through its tool’
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional arch rival, expressed its support for Morocco’s decision in a foreign ministry statement, saying it “strongly condemns Iranian interference in Morocco’s internal affairs through its tool, Hezbollah’s terrorist militia, which is training the elements of the so-called Polisario group”.
The dispute over the Western Sahara dates back to 1975 when Spain relinquished control of the territory. Rabat has consistently argued that Western Sahara forms an integral part of its territory.
UN efforts have repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the disputed territory, which Polisario says belongs to the Sahrawi people. Polisario demands a referendum on self-determination be held.
Relations between Morocco and Iran have been tense in recent years with diplomatic ties only recently restored.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies