A judge says that European Union agreements on closer ties and trade with Morocco shouldn't apply to Western Sahara amid tensions over the disputed territory.

Advocate General Melchior Wathelet said in a legal opinion Tuesday that Western Sahara isn't a part of Morocco, and EU member countries have never recognized the north African country's sovereignty over the territory.

Wathelet said that neither an EU-Morocco accord on closer ties nor a trade pact in agriculture and fisheries should apply there.

Morocco suspended contacts with the EU after Europe's top court annulled in December their fisheries and agriculture agreement because it included the mineral-rich territory, which Morocco considers to be its "southern provinces."

Opinions such as Wathelet's aren't legally binding, but are respected by EU courts in most cases.