UN’s Western Sahara envoy sets out for North Africa next week

Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara. UN Photo

15 March 2013 – The United Nations envoy dealing with Western Sahara will travel to North Africa beginning next week, as part of ongoing consultations to prepare for the next phase of the negotiations aimed at resolving the long-running conflict.

The UN has been involved in mediation efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the movement known as Frente Polisario, after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.

Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, will travel to North Africa from 20 March to 3 April.

“The current conflict in Mali and the heightened risks of instability and insecurity in the Sahel and beyond make a solution to the Western Sahara conflict more urgent than ever,” UN spokesperson Eduardo del Buey told reporters in New York.

“Within the framework of his mandate and successive resolutions of the Security Council, the purpose of Mr. Ross’s trip is to prepare for the next phase in the negotiating process and a possible resumption of direct talks to achieve ‘a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,’” he added.

To this end, Mr. Ross will hold discussions with the parties to the Western Sahara negotiations, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, and visit Western Sahara. He will also hold consultations with the neighbouring States, Algeria and Mauritania.

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