Latest round of UN-led talks on Western Sahara wrap up in New York

Peter Van Walsum, Personal Envoy for Western Sahara

18 March 2008 – The fourth and latest round of United Nations-led talks, bringing together representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario, wrapped up today on the outskirts of New York City, with both sides once again pledging to continue negotiations.

Also participating at the two-day talks – facilitated by Peter van Walsum, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General – at the Greentree Estate in Manhasset on Long Island were representatives of neighbouring States, Algeria and Mauritania.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the discussions, Mr. van Walsum said that the talks focused on the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1754 and 1783, both of which call on the parties to continue negotiations without preconditions and in good faith to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution. The parties also conferred on such subjects as administration, justice and resources, he said.

“Among a number of proposals I made to expand confidence-building measures, there was agreement among the parties to explore the establishment of family visits by land, which would be in addition to the existing programme by air,” the Envoy noted.

The last round of discussions took place, also in Manhasset, in January, and they concluded with Morocco and the Frente Polisario agreeing on the need to move into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations.

Morocco holds that its sovereignty over Western Sahara should be recognized, while the Frente Polisario’s position is that the Territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option.

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in the Territory since September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario.


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