Foreign Relations of Mauritania
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Foreign Relations of Mauritania

The foreign relations of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania have, since 1960, been dominated by the issues of the Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara or Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) and the recognition of its independence by its neighbours, particularly Morocco. Mauritania's foreign relations are handled by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, who is currently Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

History

Previously a colony of France, Mauritania gained independence in 1960, although this was disapproved of by the Arab League due to Morocco's claims on the Western Sahara. Mauritania applied to join the United Nations in 1960 but was vetoed by the Soviet Union, who voted the next year for Mauritania's admission in exchange for the admission of Mongolia.

Initially, Mauritania continued good relations with France to counterbalance Morocco's ambitions, but by 1962 the country turned away from wholesale support of France and began normalising relations with its neighbours, eventually establishing diplomatic relations with Mali in 1963 through the Treaty of Kayes, and with Algeria and the United Arab Republic in 1964. In 1963, Mauritania joined the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which led to Morocco's resignation (Morocco did not recognize Mauritania until 1969). With the OAU's and Arab League's encouragment, Mauritania did not seek diplomatic relations with Portugal, Israel or apartheid South Africa; today, following the downfall of the Apartheid system and the decolonization of Portugal's empire, relations with these countries have been normalised.

Claims to Western Sahara territory

In 1976, Mauritania annexed a third of the then Spanish Sahara following Spain's withdrawal from the region. Algeria and Morocco responded by withdrawing their ambassadors from Mauritania; additionally, the rebel Polisario group began a guerilla war against both Mauritania and Morocco. Mauritania withdrew its claims and recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as the territory's sovereign government in 1979, although this allowed Morocco to take control of the SADR. Mauritania has since declared neutrality in the dispute, seeking a peaceful and expedient end to the conflict, while its diplomatic relations with Algeria and Morocco have resumed.

African Union membership

Mauritania joined the African Union (AU) in 1963.[1] Following a military coup d'état in 2005, Mauritania's membership was suspended "until the restoration of constitutional order in the country".[2] This left Mauritania diplomatically isolated within Africa, as it became the only country on the continent except Morocco without full membership in the AU.[3]

In March 2007 democratic rule was restored in Mauritania, with presidential elections declared "free and fair" by international observers.[4] However, its membership was suspended again following the 2008 coup.[5]


Relations by country

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Andorra 16 September 2013

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 16 September 2013.[6]

 Argentina

Argentina is accredited to Mauritania from its embassy in Tunis, Tunisia.[7][8]

 Armenia 30 January 2008

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 30 January 2008.

 Azerbaijan 29 October 1994 See Azerbaijan-Mauritania relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations onn 29 October 1994.[9]

 Austria
 China 1965 See China-Mauritania relations

The government of Mauritania enjoys close ties with the government of the People's Republic of China. Diplomatic relations were opened in 1965,[15] and the governments remain on good terms. In recent years, they have signed a series of agreements and exchanged a series of diplomatic gestures that have strengthened their relationship.

The Chinese government has recently shown particular interest in Mauritania's oil deposits. Oil production in Mauritania began in February 2006, and by May of the same year the Chinese and Mauritanian governments signed an agreement on social and economic cooperation.[16] In October 2006, the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation began drilling oil wells in Mauritania, and has three other prospecting permits in Mauritania.[17] The Mauritanian government sees oil production as a significant means of boosting economic growth.

During the campaign for Mauritania's presidential elections in March 2007, candidate Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi praised Mauritania's growing ties with China, promising to "continue the path of strengthening the bilateral relations with all my efforts".[18]

 Croatia 24 November 2004

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 24 November 2004.[19][20]

 Cyprus
  • Cyprus is accredited to Mauritania from its embassy in Tripoli.[21]
  • Mauritania is accredited to Cyprus from its embassy in Rome.[22]
 France See France-Mauritania relations

The relations date back to the colonial era when Mauritania was part of French West Africa.

Most of Mauritania's developmental assistance in the 1980s was provided by France, which was also the major supplier of private direct investment. Bilateral accords signed with France in 1961 provided for economic, financial, technical, cultural, and military cooperation and aid. Although Mauritania opposed France on Algerian independence, nuclear testing in the Sahara, and French arms sales to South Africa, ties remained cordial through the Daddah term. French citizens worked in Mauritania as technical assistants in the government, administrators, teachers, and judges. Daddah frequently traveled to France, and French development aid flowed to Mauritania. The level of French involvement rose markedly following the outbreak of hostilities in the Western Sahara. Between 1976 and 1979, when Mauritania unilaterally declared peace and withdrew from combat, French aircraft provided air support for Mauritanian troops fighting Polisario forces, and French paratroops were stationed at Nouadhibou.[23]

Activity by Mauritanian dissidents in France, together with Mauritania's gradual policy shift toward the Polisario, resulted in a growing coolness toward Paris. In May 1979, Mauritania asked France to remove its troops from Nouadhibou. France continued to provide a high level of financial aid, although less than requested by the Haidalla government, and this curtailment further strained ties. Following alleged accusations of Moroccan support of a coup attempt in March 1981, Haidalla again turned to France to obtain guarantees of Mauritania's territorial integrity. President of France Georges Pompidou and Haidalla concluded an accord in 1981, as Morocco threatened to carry the struggle against Polisario guerrillas into Mauritanian territory. As Morocco's advancing sand walls increasingly obligated Polisario guerrillas to use Mauritania as a staging area, President Haidalla and, later, President Taya sought and received guarantees of French support in August 1984 and June 1987.[23]

 Georgia 16 June 2011

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 16 June 2011.

 Germany Mauritanian ambassador first sent to Germany on 3 September 1962.
 Hungary

Hungary is accredited to Mauritania from its embassy in Rabat, Morocco.[24][25]

 Iceland
 India

India is accredited to Mauritania from its embassy in Bamako, Mali[28][29] and an honorary consulate in Nouakchott.[30]

 Indonesia
 Israel

Mauritania declared war on Israel as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War,[32] following the Arab League's collective decision (Mauritania was not admitted to the League until November 1973),[33] and did not reverse that declaration until at least 1991.[32] Until 1999, Israelis were seemingly oblivious to the ongoing state of war.[32] Mauritania did not abide by moves to recognise Israel's right to exist in the same way as most other Arab countries, after the earlier 1967 Khartoum Resolution.

Little public information exists as to the state of war, and it has been inferred that the declaration of war has been reversed by:

  • behind the scenes meetings between Mauritania and Israel in 1995 and 1996 said to be at the instigation of Mauritania's President Ould Taya;[34]
  • the establishment of unofficial "interest sections" in the respective Spanish embassies of the two capital cities in 1996,[34] and;
  • the exchange of diplomatic representatives in each other's countries from 27 October 1999.[35]

In 1999 Mauritania became one of four members of the 22-member Arab League to recognize Israel as a sovereign state (the others being Egypt and Jordan)[who else?].[36] This recognition was given by former president Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya along with his cooperation with United States anti-terrorism activities. The establishment of full diplomatic relations was signed in Washington DC on October 28, 1999. After the coup by the Military Council for Justice and Democracy in August 2005, recognition of Israel was maintained.

As a response to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, relations were frozen with Israel in January 2009.[37] In February 2009, Mauritania recalled its ambassador from Israel,[36] and on 6 March 2009 staff were evicted from the Israeli embassy in Nouakchott and given 48 hours to leave Mauritania.[38] Israel officially closed the embassy later in the day, according to an announcement by its Foreign Affairs Ministry.[39] By 21 March 2010 all diplomatic relations between the two states had officially ended.[40]

 Italy
 Japan 29 November 1960

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 29 November 1960.[43]

 Latvia 18 September 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 18 September 1991.[44]

 Lithuania 11 September 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 11 September 1992.[45]

 Maldives 16 October 1989
 Mali

Since Mauritania negotiated a border dispute with Mali in 1963, ties between the two countries have been mostly cordial.[23] Mali and Mauritania have cooperated on several development projects, such as the OMVS[clarification needed] and a plan to improve roads between Nouakchott and Bamako.[23] This cooperation somewhat lessened Mali's dependence on Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire.[23] Although relations were warm with other black African states, since 1965 the orientation of Mauritania's foreign policy has been geared towards relations with North African countries.

 Malta

Both countries collaborate through the 5+5 economic forum.[47]

 Mexico 24 June 1975
 Mongolia 28 October 2003

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 28 October 2003.[48]

 Montenegro 21 December 2009

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 21 December 2009.[49]

 Morocco See Mauritania-Morocco relations

Prior to the December 1984 coup that brought Taya to power, the Mauritanian-Moroccan cooperation agency stated that relations between the two countries were on the mend in spite of alleged Moroccan complicity in a 1981 coup attempt and Mauritania's subsequent turn toward Algeria. Representatives from both sides initiated a series of low-level contacts that led to a resumption of diplomatic ties in April 1985. For Mauritania, the relaxation with Morocco promised to end the threat of Moroccan incursions, and it also removed the threat of Moroccan support for opposition groups formed during the Haidalla presidency. Through the agreement with Mauritania, Morocco sought to tighten its control over the Western Sahara by denying the Polisario one more avenue for infiltrating guerrillas into the disputed territory.[23]

Relations between Morocco and Mauritania continued to improve through 1986, reflecting President Taya's pragmatic, if unstated, view that only a Moroccan victory over the Polisario would end the guerrilla war in the Western Sahara. Taya made his first visit to Morocco in October 1985 (prior to visits to Algeria and Tunisia) in the wake of Moroccan claims that Polisario guerrillas were again traversing Mauritanian territory. The completion of a sixth berm just north of Mauritania's crucial rail link along the border with the Western Sahara, between Nouadhibou and the iron ore mines, complicated relations between Mauritania and Morocco. Polisario guerrillas in mid-1987 had to traverse Mauritanian territory to enter the Western Sahara, a situation that invited Morocco's accusations of Mauritanian complicity. Moreover, any engagements near the sixth berm would threaten to spill over into Mauritania and jeopardize the rail link.[23]

   Nepal 4 December 2012

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 4 December 2012.[50]

 Netherlands
 Pakistan

Pakistan and Mauritania maintain friendly relations, Pakistan has always supported Mauritania and so did Mauritania in the UN. Pakistan has provided equipment and training to Mauritanian Armed Forces, and is one of Pakistan's biggest trading partners

 Qatar

During the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis, Mauritania cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar.[53] Relations were reestablished in March 2021.[54]

 Romania 15 January 1965

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 January 1965.[55]

 Russia See Mauritania-Russia relations
 Serbia

Serbia is accredited to Mauritania from its embassy in Rabat, Morocco[56]

 Senegal See Mauritania-Senegal relations

In the years following independence, Mauritania's principal ally in sub-Saharan Africa was Senegal, although the two countries have espoused different strategies for development.[23] The growing split between blacks and Maures in Mauritania has, however, affected ties with Senegal, which sees itself as championing the rights of Mauritania's black minority.[23] Under Taya, relations between the two countries were correct, even though each accused the other of harboring exiled dissidents.[23] In May 1987, Senegal extradited Captain Moulaye Asham Ould Ashen, a former black member of the Haidalla government accused of corruption, but only after veiled threats from Nouakchott that failure to do so would result in Mauritania's allowing Senegalese dissidents a platform from which to speak out against the government of President Abdou Diouf.[23] At the same time, Senegal and Mauritania have cooperated successfully with Mali under the Senegal River Development Office (Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Sénégal--OMVS), which was formed in 1972 as a flood control, irrigation, and agricultural development project.

 Singapore 22 February 2018
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on 22 February 2018.[57]
  • Mauritania is accredited to Singapore from its embassy in Tokyo, Japan.[57]
 South Africa January 1995
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 1995.[58]
  • Both countries are full members of the African Union.
 South Korea

Mauritania and South Korea have made several high-ranking visits to each other's countries, including the Ambassador for the Permanent Mission of Mauritania to Geneva, Nemine Ould to South Korea in October 2008, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Morocco, Lee Tae Ho to Mauritania in February 2013.[59]

 Spain See Mauritania-Spain relations
  Switzerland
 Turkey 1974[61] See Mauritania-Turkey relations
 Ukraine
 United Kingdom 1960 The United Kingdom and Mauritania established diplomatic relations after Mauritania became independent in 1960. The UK did not have an embassy in Mauritania until 2018: the British ambassador to Senegal was also accredited to Mauritania from 1960 to 1990 (Mauritania suspended relations following the Six-Day War and resumed them in 1968)[64] and the British ambassador to Morocco was also accredited to Mauritania from 1990 until 2018 when the UK upgraded its office in Nouakchott to an embassy and appointed a resident ambassador.[65]
 United States See Mauritania-United States relations
Embassy of Mauritania in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Government fully supports Mauritania's transition to democracy, and congratulates Mauritania on the successful series of 2006-2007 parliamentary and presidential elections. The U.S. condemned the August 2005 coup and the unconstitutional assumption of power by the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, and called for a return to a constitutional government through free and fair elections as soon as possible. The United States provided election-related assistance for voting education, political party training, and democracy building. The U.S. now aims to work with the Mauritanian Government to expand bilateral cooperation in the areas of food security, health, education, security, strengthening democratic institutions, and counterterrorism.

 Uzbekistan 2 July 2008
 Vietnam 15 March 1965

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 March 1965.[67]

See also

  • Katsarova, Ivana. "EU-Mauritania fisheries agreements" (PDF). Library Briefing. Library of the European Parliament. Retrieved 2013.

References

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