Security Council likely to extend UN Western Sahara mission - President

27 January 2004

The President of the Security Council today predicted an extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in order to foster efforts aimed at resolving the status of the disputed territory.

Speaking to reporters following closed-door consultations on the issue, Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile predicted that the three-month extension would be approved on Friday by consensus.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan had recommended that the Council continue MINURSO through April to allow his Personal Envoy, James Baker, to consult more with Morocco on a proposed peace plan.

The Council President, in his comments to the press today, voiced hope that the anticipated extension would provide the time necessary to reach agreement on that plan.

In another development, Ambassador Muñoz said a draft resolution on Al-Qaida was being circulated among Council members and might be ready for adoption in the coming days.

The Chilean diplomat, who heads the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against the Taliban and Al-Qaida, pledged to make "all efforts to have a stronger resolution," adding, "my feeling is that we will."

The current international sanctions regime was initially adopted in response to the 1998 indictment of Usama bin Laden for bombing United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam and later strengthened by the Security Council.


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