Western Sahara: UN envoy to visit region for in-depth consultations

4 February 2008
Peter Van Walsum, Personal Envoy for Western Sahara

The United Nations envoy for Western Sahara travels tomorrow to the region for a round of in-depth consultations with the parties ahead of the next round of scheduled talks between Morocco and the Frente Polisario.

Peter van Walsum, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, will visit Rabat, Tindouf, Algiers and Nouakchott during his 10-day trip, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today.

The visit is taking place ahead of the fourth round of UN-led talks in Manhasset, New York, set for 11-13 March, between Morocco and Frente Polisario, which dispute how to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Security Council members welcomed the news of both Mr. van Walsum’s trip and the March round of face-to-face talks, according to a statement to the press read out by Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias of Panama, which holds the rotating presidency this month.

“The members of the Security Council welcome that the parties reiterated their commitment to show political will and negotiate in good faith and agreed on the need to move the process into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations under United Nations auspices,” Mr. Arias said.

In his most recent report on the issue, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that while it was a positive sign that the two sides had committed to a process of negotiations, they remained far apart on the substantive issues.

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in the Territory since 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario.


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