Morocco cutting support for UN Western Sahara force

The Moroccan government is reducing its staff and support for the U.N. peacekeeping operation in the Western Sahara, to protest U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's recent comments about the disputed territory.

Morocco also threatened to pull out its troops from all U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The unusual move is the latest step in an escalating dispute between Morocco and the U.N. chief. Ban recently visited Saharan refugee camps and referred to Morocco's "occupation" of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that Morocco annexed in 1975.

Ban says a huge protest Sunday in Morocco over his comments was disrespectful to him.

In response, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing its "indignation" and announcing an end to its "contribution" and a reduction of its staff in the MINURSO peacekeeping force.