Algeria downgrades Arab Maghreb meeting delegates

Algeria on Wednesday decided to downgrade its representation at the 32nd session of the Arab Maghreb Union's foreign ministers' meeting, scheduled for Friday in the Moroccan capital Rabat.
Algeria's delegation to the meeting is expected to be headed by Abdel-Hamid Sonosi, secretary-general of the Algerian Foreign Ministry, instead of Foreign Minister Lamamra Ramtane, according to ministry spokesman Abdelaziz Benali Cherif.
"Algeria's participation at this session reflects its enthusiasm about the Arab Maghreb Union and the building of its institutions on the basis of mutual benefit and in the light of the aspirations of the region's peoples," Cherif said in a statement.
He did not, however, mention the reasons for the downgrade, which can apparently be attributed to tense relations between Algeria and Morocco.
Relations between the two neighbors turned tense in recent months on the back of a November attack on the Algerian embassy in the Moroccan city of Casablanca.
A few weeks ago, tension erupted between the two countries yet again when Morocco accused Algeria of deporting Syrian refugees to their joint borders – allegations denied by Algeria.
The two countries are also locked in a diplomatic standoff over the Western Sahara region, which Morocco considers an inseparable part of its territory.
Morocco accuses Algeria of backing Western Sahara's Polisario Front, which continues to battle the Moroccan government for the region.
The Arab Maghreb Union was founded in 1989 with the aim of boosting cooperation among North African countries Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.