Algiers - Algeria's president says Western Sahara's people should decide for themselves whether to be independent or subject to Morocco's rule.

The comment is an implicit rebuke to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's praise of a Moroccan plan to give the area autonomy but still keep it under its control.

Morocco annexed the mineral-rich territory in 1975 and then fought against the rebel Polisario Front until a truce in 1991.

UN-supervised talks on a potential referendum on independence have since yielded nothing.

Morocco has offered wide-ranging autonomy, and in Rabat on Sunday, Clinton called the plan “serious, realistic and credible.”

But Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika reiterated his country's backing of the Polisario's desire for a referendum. He expressed hope UN talks be restarted. - Sapa-AP