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October 18, 10

NEWS / UN envoy on Western Sahara in Algeria ahead of new talks to resolve dispute

18 October 2010 – The top United Nations envoy on the status of Western Sahara held talks in Algeria today as part of efforts to resolve the long-running dispute that dates back to 1976 when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the end of the Spanish colonial regime.

“As with my previous visits, this tour of the region has as principle goal the clearing of roadblocks on the path to constructive negotiations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Frente Polisario,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Personal Envoy Christopher Ross told reporters after meeting with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the capital, Algiers.

“There is no doubt that the status quo is untenable in the long term, given the costs and dangers that it entails, and the parties must now demonstrate the necessary political will to surmount it. This demands negotiations without pre-conditions and in good faith… to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution which provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”

Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy while the position of the Frente Polisario is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.

“My hope is to see the parties emerge from the current impasse and start intensive and substantive negotiations in the future of Western Sahara,” Mr. Ross said.

After Algiers, he is to travel to the region of Tindouf in south-west Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco, to continue preparations for the third meeting in November of informal talks that aim to prepare the way for formal negotiations.




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