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Rep. Pitts Lauds Protection of Sahrawis in Morocco Trade Pact

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Pitts Lauds Protection of Sahrawis in Morocco Trade Pact

Washington-Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) today supported legislation to implement the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement. He did so only after making clear that the agreement does not apply to goods and services which originate in Western Sahara, a country which Morocco has illegally occupied portions of since 1975.

"I'm a free trader," said Congressman Pitts, "because I believe trade creates jobs here and economic growth abroad. However, I could not have supported this agreement without the efforts of the Administration and Chairman Thomas to protect the people of the Western Sahara. Once in place, this agreement will benefit the people of Morocco and will create jobs here. However, it's the government of Morocco I'm concerned about. For three decades it has defied international law, obstructed international agreements, and denied the people of Western Sahara, a vote to determine their own future."

In a letter to Congressman Pitts, Robert Zoellick, the United States Trade Representative said:

"The Administration's position on Western Sahara is clear: sovereignty of Western Sahara is in dispute, and the United States fully supports the United Nations; efforts to resolve this issue. The United States and many other countries do not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara and have consistently urged the parties to work with the United Nations to resolve the conflict by peaceful means."

"Again, this agreement and Administration's commitment to freedom in Western Sahara makes clear that we should keep our word to the Sahrawis and give them a vote. While trade is good, freedom for the Sahrawis is better. The government of Morocco needs to give them a vote," said Congressman Pitts.

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