The parties in the dispute over the status of Western Sahara, where fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after Spain’s colonial administration ended in 1976, have agreed to a United Nations proposal to hold their next set of informal talks next week in the United States.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “encourages the parties to make further progress and urges focused and productive discussions,” a statement issued by his spokesman said.
The talks on 10-11 February will be held within the framework of Security Resolution 1871 of last April, which welcomed the parties’ agreement to hold small, informal talks in preparation for a fifth round of negotiations, calling upon them to continue the dialogue under Mr. Ban’s auspices without preconditions to achieve “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”
The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been entrusted with monitoring the ceasefire reached in September 1991 and organizing a referendum on self-determination.
Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy, while the Frente Polisario says the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option. The two sides have held several rounds of talks recently under the leadership of Mr. Ban’s Personal Envoy Christopher Ross, who proposed the latest round of talks to be held in Westchester County, outside New York.