A handout picture shows Morocco's King Mohammed VI giving a speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the People and the King's Revolution in Rabat on August 20, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Azzouz BoukallouchAZZOUZ BOUKALLOUCH/AFP/Getty Images Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Rabat: King Mohammed VI has called for an easing of bilateral tensions with Algeria, long stoked by the disputed Western Sahara region, official Moroccan media said Sunday.

The king issued the call in a message to congratulate Abdelmajid Tebboune for winning Algeria’s presidential election, which took place on Thursday, MAP news agency said.

“The King also reiterated his previous call to open a new page in relations between the two neighbouring countries, based on mutual trust and constructive dialogue,” it said.

The North African neighbours have been at loggerheads for decades over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony disputed between Morocco and the Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed independence movement.

Morocco fought a war with the Polisario Front from 1975 to 1991, when a ceasefire deal was agreed.

Algeria and Morocco have had frequent diplomatic rows and their land border has been closed since 1994.

Heads of state from the two countries have not met since 2005.

The international community has long advocated that a referendum be held to decide the status of Western Sahara.

But Morocco, which annexed the territory after Spain withdrew in 1975 and considers it an integral part of the kingdom, has instead offered autonomy for Western Sahara.

The Polisario Front insists on a UN referendum on independence.

After a long break, a UN-led dialogue between Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania resumed in Switzerland in December 2018, followed by a second round in March, but no breakthrough was made.