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The UK denies military presence in occupied Western Sahara
UK Minister of Defence clarifies error in recent news report regarding UK troops training in occupied Western Sahara. “The British armed forces do not conduct bi-lateral military activity in Western Sahara”, minister said.
Published: 14.12 - 2008 10:43Printer version    
The Western Sahara Campaign UK is pleased to note that in answer to a Parliamentary Question, (26 Nov 2008 : Column 1796W  Western Sahara: Military Exercises), Bill Rammell, Minister of State at the FCO, stated that “the British armed forces do not conduct bi-lateral military activity with Morocco in Western Sahara whose status is yet to be determined by the UN.”  

The Question was asked following a Ministry of Defence news article of 24 Oct 2008 in ‘Training and Adventure’, stating that a joint exercise had taken place – “partly in the Atlas Mountains and partly in the Western Sahara.” See the full article below.

If exercises had taken place in occupied Western sahara it was in direct contravention of the Joint Accord on Technical and Military Co-operation between the UK and Morocco. Bill Rammell’s answer stated that “the Governments of the UK and Morocco signed a Joint Accord on Technical and Military Co-operation in 1993 under which the two countries conduct bi-lateral military co-operation including training. This arrangement does not specify what facilities are used in Morocco and it does not cover the territory of Western Sahara.”

For further information contact:
John Gurr, Co-ordinator Western Sahara Campaign UK.  01974 282575.
Mark Leutchford, Chair Western Sahara Campaign UK.  07977 285193.




Article published in Training and Adventure
24 Oct 08
Joint Helicopter Force join Gibraltar Regiment for Moroccan exercise
Lieutenant Dayan Pozo explained further:
"This third phase was called 'Wandering Vulture'. Each RG platoon of 25 men was to complete a Land Rover expedition - partly in the Atlas Mountains and partly in the Western Sahara."
http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/TrainingAnd
Adventure/JointHelicopterForceJoinGibraltarRegimentForMoroccanExercise.htm



13 Nov 2008 : Column 1301W
Morocco: Armed Forces

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what agreements his Department has with the government of Morocco on training facilities; and whether any facilities included in the agreement are in the Western Sahara. [235119]
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Governments of the United Kingdom and Morocco signed a Joint Accord on Technical and Military Co-operation in 1993 under which the two countries conduct bi-lateral military co-operation including training. This arrangement does not specify what facilities are used in Morocco and does not cover the territory of Western Sahara. The British armed forces do not conduct bi-lateral military activity with Western Sahara, the status of which is yet to be determined by the UN.

26 Nov 2008 : Column 1796W
Western Sahara: Military Exercises

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on joint UK/Morocco military exercises in occupied Western Sahara. [238852]
Bill Rammell: As my right. hon. Friend the Minister for the armed forces stated on 13 November, Official Report, column 1301W, the Governments of the UK and Morocco signed a Joint Accord on Technical and Military Co-operation in 1993 under which the two countries conduct bi-lateral military co-operation including training. This arrangement does not specify what facilities are used in Morocco and it does not cover the territory of Western Sahara. The British armed forces do not conduct bi-lateral military activity in Western Sahara whose status is yet to be determined by the UN.

    




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Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.

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