Iran denies Morocco accusation of Polisario arms delivery

Tehran (AFP) –


Iran on Wednesday denied that it was involved in a weapons delivery to the Polisario Front movement seeking independence for Western Sahara after Morocco cut diplomatic ties with Tehran over the allegations.

"Remarks attributed to the foreign minister of Morocco about cooperation between an Iranian diplomat and the Polisario Front" in Western Sahara are "false", Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Rabat on Tuesday cut diplomatic ties with Iran, accusing the Islamic republic of using its ally Hezbollah to deliver weapons to the Polisario Front.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said "a first shipment of weapons was recently" sent to the Algerian-backed Polisario Front via an "element" at the Iranian embassy in Algiers.

He said Rabat had "irrefutable proof" of Hezbollah's involvement and said ties were being cut with Tehran in response to Iran "allying itself with" the Polisario.

Hezbollah quickly rejected Rabat's accusations, blaming the decision on foreign "pressure".

The spat comes as tensions have soared between regional powerhouses Iran and Morocco's ally Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh on Wednesday said it "stood by" Rabat's decision to sever ties with Tehran and "strongly condemns the Iranian interference in Morocco's internal affairs".

Morocco maintains that Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony under its control, is an integral part of the kingdom, while the Polisario Front demands a referendum on self-determination.