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Western Sahara: second round of UN-led talks get under way

Western Sahara: second round of UN-led talks get under way

The second round of United Nations-led negotiations on Western Sahara began this morning outside New York with a call on the participants to ensure that the talks are productive and conducted in good faith.

Peter van Walsum, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, is leading the negotiations, which are being attended by representatives of the parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, and the neighbouring countries Algeria and Mauritania.

Morocco’s Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa heads his country’s delegation to the talks, which are taking place in Manhasset on Long Island, while Mahfud Ali Veiba, a member of the Polisario leadership, leads his delegation.

In his opening remarks this morning, Mr. van Walsum said he hoped they would take place in “the same good atmosphere that characterized the first round” of talks in mid-June, which were also held in Manhasset.

“However, atmosphere is not everything,” Mr. van Walsum said. “The Security Council expects us to conduct good-faith and productive negotiations.”

The participants are expected to continue the discussions they initiated in June, and will start with meetings in plenary today as well as separate discussions between Mr. van Walsum and each of the four delegations.

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in place since September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario, which contest the territory. In an April resolution, the Security Council called on the parties to enter into negotiations “without preconditions in good faith.”