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Foreign relations of Mauritania

The foreign relations of The Islamic Republic of Mauritania have been dominated since independence by the issues of the Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara or Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) as well as recognition of its independence by its neighbors, particularly Morocco. Mauritania's foreign relations are handled by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and the good foreign minister is Ahmed Ould Teguedi.



Mauritania became independent from France in 1960. However, it did not join the United Nations until 1961 due to an initial veto by the Soviet Union. The Arab League disapproved of Mauritanian independence due to Morocco's ambitions for Mauritania. Eventually, Mauritania was admitted to the United Nations in 1961 in response by the Soviet Union to a favorable vote for Mongolia's admission in the same year. Mauritania did initially support France in Northwest Africa to counterbalance Morocco's ambition. By 1962, however, Mauritania turned away from wholesale support of France and began normalizing relations with its neighbors, eventually establishing diplomatic relations with Mali in 1963 through the Treaty of Kayes, Algeria and the United Arab Republic in 1964. In 1963, Mauritania joined the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which then caused Morocco to resign (Morocco did not recognize Mauritania until 1969). At this point, Mauritania, encouraged by the OAU and the Arab League, did not seek diplomatic relations with Apartheid South Africa, Israel or Portugal. Today, however, Mauritania has normalized relations with South Africa and Portugal, with the downfall of the Apartheid system in South Africa as well as the retreat from colonialism in Portugal.

Claims to Western Sahara territoryEdit

In 1976, when Spain withdrew from the Western Sahara, Mauritania annexed a third of it. Upon this, both Algeria and Morocco withdrew their ambassadors from Mauritania. The rebel Polisario group began raids on Mauritania in 1976 and lasted until 1979 when Mauritania withdrew its claims from the Western Sahara and recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as the sovereign government of the Western Sahara territory, though Morocco took control of the SADR because of Mauritania's withdrawal. Since this time, Mauritania has declared neutrality in the dispute, seeking a peaceful and expedient end to the conflict; diplomatic relations with Algeria and Morocco have resumed.[1]

Suspension of African Union membershipEdit

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

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

Relations by countryEdit

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
  Andorra 16 September 2013

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

  Armenia 30 January 2008

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 30 January 2008.

  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,[7] 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.[8] In October 2006, the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation began drilling oil wells in Mauritania, and has three other prospecting permits in Mauritania.[9] 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".[10]

  Croatia 24 November 2004

Both countries established diplomatic relations on November 24, 2004.[11][12]

  • Cyprus is represented in Mauritania by its embassy in Tripoli.[13]
  • Mauritania is represented in Cyprus by its embassy in Rome.[14]
  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.[15]

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. French president 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.[15]

  Georgia 16 June 2011

Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 16, 2011.


Mauritania declared war on Israel as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War,[16] following the Arab League's collective decision (Mauritania was not admitted to the League until November 1973[17]), and did not reverse that declaration until at least 1991[16] and, seemingly, for some 32 years in about early-mid-1999, Israelis were seemingly oblivious to the ongoing state of war.[16]

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 1999 from:

  • behind the scenes meetings between Mauritania and Israel in 1995 and 1996 said to be at the instigation of Mauritania's President Ould Taya;[18]
  • the establishment of unofficial "interest sections" in the respective Spanish embassies in 1996 in the two capital cities,[18] leading to;
  • the exchange of diplomatic representatives in each other's countries from 27 October 1999.[19]

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, Jordan).[20] 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.[21] In February 2009, Mauritania recalled its ambassador from Israel,[20] and on 6 March 2009 staff were evicted from the Israeli embassy in Nouakchott, and given 48 hours to leave Mauritania.[22] Israel officially closed the embassy later in the day, according to an announcement by its Foreign Affairs Ministry.[23] By 21 March 2010 all diplomatic relations between the two states had officially come to an end.[24]

  Japan 29 November 1960

Both countries established diplomatic relations on November 29, 1960.[25]

  Latvia 18 September 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on September 18, 1991.[26]

  Lithuania 11 September 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on September 11, 1992.[27]


Since Mauritania negotiated a boundary dispute with Mali in 1963, ties between the two countries have been mostly cordial.[15] Mali and Mauritania have cooperated on several development projects, such as the OMVS and a plan to improve roads between Nouakchott and Bamako.[15] This cooperation somewhat lessened Mali's dependence on Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire.[15] 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.

  Mexico 24 June 1975
  • Mauritania is accredited to Mexico from its embassy in Washington, D.C., United States.
  • Mexico is accredited to Mauritania from its embassy in Algiers, Algeria and maintains an honorary consulate in Nouakchott.
  Mongolia 28 October 2003

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

  Montenegro 21 December 2009

Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 21, 2009.[29]

  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.[15]

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.[15]


Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 4, 2012.[30]


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, besides this Pakistan is one of the leading trade partners of Mauritania.


During the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis, Mauritania cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar.[31]

  Russia See Mauritania–Russia relations
  Romania 15 January 1965

Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 15, 1965.[32]


Serbia is represented in Mauritania by its embassy in Rabat.[33]

  Senegal See Mauritania–Senegal relations
Embassy of Mauritania in Washington, D.C.

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.[15] 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.[15] Under Taya, relations between the two countries were correct, even though each accused the other of harboring exiled dissidents.[15] 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.[15] 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.

  South Africa January 1995
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 1995.[34]
  • Both countries are full members of the African Union.
  South Korea

Visits from Mauritania to the Republic of Korea: 1988 November Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy 2002 September Representative for the Bureau International des Expositions(BIE) Sidi 2002 December Minister of State Affairs Salek 2003 May Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice Mahmoud Nemine 2004 October Ambassador for the Permanent Mission of Mauritania to Geneva Mohamed Lemine 2007 December Minister of Culture and Public information Cheikh 2008 October Ambassador for the Permanent Mission of Mauritania to Geneva Nemine ould.[35]

  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 in 1968)[37] 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 ambassdor.[38]
  United States See Mauritania–United States relations

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.

  Vietnam 15 March 1965

Both countries established diplomatic relations on March 15, 1965.[39]


  1. ^ Morocco, United States Department of State.
  2. ^ African Union suspends Mauritania over coup, Reuters, August 4, 2005.
  3. ^ Map of African Union Archived 2008-01-05 at the Wayback Machine, African Union.
  4. ^ Mauritania vote 'free and fair', BBC News, March 12, 2007.
  5. ^ AU to suspend Mauritania membership for coup, Xinhua, August 9, 2008.
  6. ^ "Bilateral Affairs". Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  7. ^ Chinese Foreign Ministry (10 October 2006). "Mauritania". China Internet Information Center. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  8. ^ "China, Mauritania sign $2mn co-operation deal". South African Press Association; Agence France-Presse. 22 May 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  9. ^ "Chinese national oil firm prospecting for onshore oil in Mauritania". University of Alberta. Agence France-Presse. 16 October 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  10. ^ "Mauritania's presidential candidates hail ties with China". People's Daily. Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  11. ^ "MVEP • Date of Recognition and Establishment of Diplomatic Relations". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  12. ^ "MVEP • Overview of Bilateral Treaties of the Republic of Croatia by Country". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  13. ^ "MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Cyprus Diplomatic Missions Abroad". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  14. ^ "MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Cyprus – International Organizations". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Handloff, Robert E. "Relations with France". In Mauritania: A Country Study (Robert E. Handloff, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (June 1988). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^ a b c Amos Oz interview with Phillip Adams, 10 September 1991, re-broadcast on ABC Radio National 23 December 2011
  17. ^ The encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli conflict: a political, social, and military history, Volume 1 A-H, Spencer Tucker, ABC-CLIO Inc, 2008, p127, accessed 25 December 2011
  18. ^ a b Historical dictionary of Mauritania, Anthony G. Pazzanita, Scarecrow Press Inc, Lanham, Maryland USA, 2008, p216, accessed 25 December 2011
  19. ^ A political chronology of Africa, David Lea, Annamarie Rowe, Europa Publications Ltd, London, 2001, ISBN o-203-40309-6, p289, accessed 25 December 2011
  20. ^ a b Friedman, Matti (6 March 2009). "Officials: Mauritania expels Israeli ambassador". Associated Press. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  21. ^ Sidi Salem, Hachem; Fertey, Vincent (6 March 2009). "Mauritania tells Israel embassy to leave". International Herald Tribune. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  22. ^ Sidi Salem, Hachem (6 March 2009). "Staff leave Israeli embassy in Mauritania". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  23. ^ "Israel closes Mauritania embassy". BBC. 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  24. ^ "Mauritania Formally Severs Diplomatic Ties With Israel". 21 March 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2018 – via Haaretz.
  25. ^ "Japan-Mauritania Relations (Basic Data)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  26. ^ "Establishment and renewal of diplomatic relations". Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ "LIST OF STATES WITH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS". 22 July 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Tabela priznanja i uspostavljanja diplomatskih odnosa". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  30. ^ "Diplomatic Relations - Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nepal MOFA". Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  31. ^ "Mauritania breaks diplomatic ties with Qatar, Gabon voices condemnation". Reuters. Jun 7, 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  32. ^ "Diplomatic Relations of Romania - Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  33. ^ "Other Countries RS- Mauritania". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  34. ^ "Mauritania (The Islamic Republic of)". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  35. ^ [2][dead link]
  36. ^ "From Rep. of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  37. ^ A Political Chronology of Africa. Routledge. 2003. p. 285.
  38. ^ "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Mauritania". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 10 May 2018.
  39. ^ admin. "- General Information about Countries and Regions". Retrieved 30 December 2018.

See alsoEdit