Morocco will "never recognise" Western Sahara's independence despite rejoining the African Union after a decades-long dispute over the territory, Deputy Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said in published remarks Sunday.
Last Monday, the AU approved Morocco's re-entry into the bloc which it quit in 1984 in protest at the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) declared by the Polisario Front at the height of a war for the territory.
"Not only does Morocco not recognise — and will never recognise — this so-called entity," Mr Bourita told website Le Desk in an interview.
"It will (also) redouble its efforts so the small minority of countries, particularly African, which recognise it, change their positions."
AU membership would not change Morocco's stance that the Western Sahara is an integral part of its territory, he said.
Monday's summit in Addis Ababa followed an intense diplomatic battle with the Polisario's backers, led by Algeria and South Africa, which opposed Morocco rejoining the AU.
Those countries "have spent months doing everything they can to prevent our return, until the last minute," a senior Moroccan diplomat who did not wish to be identified told AFP.
"The Addis summit was a setback for them," he said, adding that they are now working hard "to present this failure as a success".
The Polisario and its allies say Morocco's return to the African bloc implies a recognition of the SADR's borders.
"This is nonsense from the point of view of international law and state practice," Mr Bourita told Le Desk.
Joining "an international forum in the presence of an unrecognised entity cannot imply the state's recognition of that entity", he said.
Arab countries and Iran are UN members along with Israel, which they do not recognise, he added.
"Does Algeria recognise Israel simply by sitting beside it at the UN?"
"The return of Morocco is a direct challenge to the presence of the Polisario within the AU," the diplomatic source said.
"Morocco will continue to mobilise to delegitimise the SADR."