Dec. 25 (UPI) — The United States will open a consulate in Western Sahara, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday.
“Pleased to announce the beginning of the process to establish a U.S. consulate in Western Sahara and the inauguration of a virtual presence post effective immediately!” Pompeo wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
“We look forward to promoting economic and social development, and to engage the people of this region.”
In a statement, Pompeo added that the virtual presence post in Sahara will be managed by the U.S. embassy in Rabat.
The virtual post will focus on “promoting economic and social development” in advance of the establishment of a fully functioning consulate.
Thursday’s announcement came after President Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara as part of a deal to normalize relations between Morocco and Israel.
The Moroccan government has mostly controlled the area, but a small portion has been managed by the partially recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a self-proclaimed sovereign state established by the Polisario Front in the 1970s.