Western Sahara: UN-led talks wrap up with parties pledging to continue negotiations

Western Sahara: UN-led talks wrap up with parties pledging to continue negotiations

The latest round of United Nations-sponsored talks on Western Sahara has ended with the parties, Morocco and Frente Polisario, in agreement that the status quo is unacceptable and the process of negotiations will continue.

The two-day talks, which took place in Manhasset, just outside New York, wrapped up on Saturday – two months after the first round of talks were held at the same venue.

The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, who led the talks, said he was pleased that they were substantive and that Morocco and Frente Polisario interacted with each other and expressed their views.

Representatives of the neighbouring countries Algeria and Mauritania were also present at the opening and closing sessions of the negotiations and were consulted separately over the two days.

In a communiqué, Mr. van Walsum said that, at his initiative, the parties heard presentations by UN experts on specific issues, including natural resources and local administration, while confidence-building measures between the two sides were also proposed for discussion.

The envoy added that Morocco and Frente Polisario acknowledged that the negotiations process should continue and that the current status quo was unacceptable.

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.”