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Parties pledge to continue UN-backed talks on Western Sahara

Parties pledge to continue UN-backed talks on Western Sahara

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross
The latest United Nations-backed talks between Morocco and the Frente Polisario over the disputed territory of Western Sahara have concluded with a commitment from both parties to continue negotiations as soon as possible.

The two-day discussions, held in the Austrian town of Duernstein on 10 and 11 August, took place in an “atmosphere of serious, frankness and mutual respect,” according to a statement issued by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Christopher Ross.

Mr. Ross will fix the date and venue of the next meeting in consultation with the parties.

Several rounds of talks between the two parties were held under UN auspices in 2007 and 2008 in New York but did not result in any substantial agreements.

Fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after Spain’s colonial administration of Western Sahara ended in 1976. The UN mission there, known as MINURSO, is tasked with monitoring the ceasefire reached in September 1991 and organizing a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara.

Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy, while the Frente Polisario’s position is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.