Algeria has summoned its ambassador to Spain back for consultations over Madrid's recent comments on Western Sahara, the foreign affairs ministry said on Saturday.

Iran PressAfrica: Algeria, Spain’s biggest natural-gas supplier, recalled its ambassador to Madrid for consultations after the Spanish government took Morocco’s side in a North African territorial dispute.

The friction over the status of Western Sahara could spell trouble for Spain at a time when countries across Europe are seeking alternate sources of Russian gas.

The move comes hours after Spain announced that it was endorsing a Moroccan plan for autonomy in the contested Western Sahara region in what Madrid called the beginning of "a new phase in relations."

Madrid noted that the new phase will be "based on mutual respect, the completion of agreements, the absence of unilateral actions and the permanent transparency of communication."

Algeria and Morocco cut diplomatic ties last year, while Spain and Morocco have previously clashed over immigration from North Africa to Spain’s southern coast.

Morocco claims full sovereignty over the territory, while Algeria backs the Polisario Front's demands for a referendum on self-determination under the auspices of the United Nations. 219