Morocco’s stability is incredibly important to the United States, as it is a major supporter of the US interests in the Middle East. Thus, Baker was extremely frustrated that Morocco would not agree to his proposal. The conflict seemed to be a hopeless cause, leading Baker to resign from his position. Secretary General Kofi Annan stated as of June 2004, that the cost of maintaining MINURSO has reached around $600 million. 37 36 Smith, Brian. “Western Sahara: Resignation of UN envoy James Baker puts referendum in doubt.” World Socialist Web Site . June 28, 2004. May 31, 2005 < - j28.shtml>. 37 Smith
QuickT ime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. On April 28 th of this year however, the UN Security Council decided to extend MINURSO until October 30 th , 2005. 38 This May 6 th , Annan appointed veteran United Nations negotiator Alvaro de Soto to be UN envoy in the Middle East. Annan and Soto have plans to meet with the Middle East Quartet (comprised of the UN, European Union, Russian Federation, and US) to discuss the conflict. Mr. Annan is confident in Mr. de Soto’s experience and says that he will “play an essential role” 39 in the renewed momentum for peace in Western Sahara. In regard to the extension of MINURSO, Annan states "I remain prepared to help the parties reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution," 40 Thus, the UN keeps pushing on and stays confident that MINURSO will find a solution to the conflict. 41 MOROCCAN RELATIONS Morocco is considered a moderate Arab state. It enjoys close relations with Europe and the United States. Morocco is a member of the UN, Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), INTELSAT, and the Non-Aligned Movement. 42 It used to be a member of 38 MINURSO 39 MINURSO 40 “UN chief ready to help parties reach ‘political solution’ to Sahara dispute.” Arabic News. April 21, 2005. May 31, 2005 < ; 41 MINURSO, top Kofi Annan, bottom Alvaro de Soto 42 Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Background Note: Morocco . Oct. 2004, May 2005 <; QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
the OAU - Organization of African Unity, but it withdrew membership as soon as the OAU recognized Western Sahara. The OAU has since become the African Union. Morocco also suffers from poor, strained relations with Algeria over the Western Sahara conflict. Relations with the United States Morocco enjoys extremely close ties with the United States. It signed a comprehensive bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States in June 2004. The agreement was the United States’ second such agreement with an Arab country and their first such agreement with a country in Africa.