Western Sahara: UN envoy wraps up regional visit

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross

1 July 2009 – The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy who is trying to help broker a political solution regarding the status of Western Sahara has wrapped up a visit to the region which took him to Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Spain.

This was Christopher Ross’ second trip to the area since he was appointed to the position this January.

Yesterday, he met with the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos in the country’s capital, Madrid, on the last leg of a trip which also took him to Algiers and Tindouf in Algeria; Nouakchott, Mauritania; and Rabat, Morocco.

Morocco has presented a plan to give autonomy to Western Sahara, 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.

Several rounds of UN-led talks held last year resulted in the parties agreeing to continue negotiations in good faith towards a solution to the issue.

The envoy said he was “optimistic about an upcoming informal meeting intended to pave the way for a fifth round of negotiations,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York today.

Such a meeting would “make an important contribution to the search for a resolution to the conflict, which has gone on too long and is hindering the work which needs to be done on regional integration,” she added.

The UN mission, known as MINURSO, tasked with organizing a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara and monitoring the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario, has been in place since September 1991.


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