Saudi, Moroccan kings review ‘brotherly’ ties

            By Khalid Mejdoub, Gulsen Topcu <br> <br> RABAT (AA) - Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Moroccan King Mohammed VI reviewed the “brotherly and friendly” relations between the two countries during a telephone call, state news agency SPA said Wednesday. </p>  <p>The call followed a crisis in relations between the two countries. </p>  <p>They stressed a keenness to strengthen and develop the “deep-rooted ties” between the nations and their people in all fields, SPA said. </p>  <p>Regional and international developments were also reviewed.</p>  <p>A row started when Morocco recalled its ambassador to the kingdom after a Saudi television channel reportedly broadcast a report “challenging Morocco’s territorial integrity.”</p>  <p>Ambassador Mustafa al-Mansouri told Morocco’s pro-government 360 website Feb.8: “I was recalled from Riyadh to take part in consultations regarding our two countries’ bilateral relations.” </p>  <p>Describing the matter as a “passing cloud”, al-Mansouri attributed the move to the report which he said “challenged the Kingdom of Morocco’s territorial integrity,” a reference to Morocco’s Western Sahara region. </p>  <p>A large territory in southern Morocco, the Western Sahara, remains the subject of dispute between Rabat and the Polisario Front -- an Algeria-backed movement which for decades has called for regional independence.</p>  <p>In a closely related development, however, Moroccan media reported Feb. 7 that Rabat decided to withdraw from a Saudi-led military coalition drawn up in 2015 to fight the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.</p>  <p>On Jan. 23, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bureita was quoted as saying his country had &quot;changed&quot; its policy regarding its participation in the coalition. </p>  <p>Also, on Nov. 22, 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman began his first foreign tour since the high-profile murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul a month earlier.</p>  <p>His tour included the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Argentina, Mauritania and Algeria.</p>  <p>Morocco, however, was not included in the tour, in a move seen as reflecting strained ties and a crisis in relations between Rabat and Riyadh. </p>  <p><br> <br> *Writing by Zehra Nur Düz </p>  <p>