UN envoy aiming for talks with both sides of Western Sahara dispute

26 July 2004

The senior United Nations envoy for Western Sahara, Alvaro de Soto, has arrived in the region to try to initiate fresh talks with Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO, the UN mission to the disputed territory announced today.

In a statement released in Laayoune, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known by its French acronym MINURSO, said Mr. de Soto has already held in-depth consultations in Washington, Paris and Madrid, and was hoping to hold talks with the main parties before the seasonal lull in August.

Mr. de Soto, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Western Sahara, has assumed greater responsibility since the resignation in early June of James A. Baker III, who had been the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy.

MINURSO has been in place since April 1991, when it was installed after years of fighting between Western Sahara and Morocco following Spain's withdrawal from the territory in 1976. The Frente POLISARIO is also known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro.


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