Morocco, Frente Polisario remain far apart on Western Sahara – Ban Ki-moon
Morocco and the Frente Polisario are still far apart on how to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, despite the two parties’ commitment to a process of negotiations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.
Mr. Ban writes that during the latest round of talks, held earlier this month in Manhasset, New York, the two sides held several sessions of face-to-face discussions but did not examine specific elements in each other’s proposals.
“Although the parties dynamically interacted with each other, there was hardly any exchange that could be characterized as negotiations,” he states, adding that “their stated position remained far apart on ways to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.”
The talks – attended also by Algeria and Mauritania as neighbouring countries – were limited largely to preliminary discussions on thematic subjects such as administration, competencies and organs, while the parties discussed but did not agree on any confidence-building measures.
But Mr. Ban notes that in a communiqué issued by his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, after the talks, the two sides “agreed on the need to move the process into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations.”
Morocco and Frente Polisario also welcomed the intention of Mr. van Walsum to visit the region shortly for in-depth consultations and agreed to re-convene for a fourth round of talks in Manhasset, scheduled for 11 to 13 March.
The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in the Territory since September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario.