The United Nations envoy for Western Sahara announced today following three days of informal talks with the parties that he will embark on a regional tour starting in mid-May, including an extensive visit to the disputed territory.
In addition, the next round of informal meetings will take place in Europe in June and in a place to be determined in July, according to a statement issued by Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara.
The UN has been involved in efforts towards a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.
Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy while the position of the Frente Polisario is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.
Discussions during the just-concluded talks, held outside New York City, took place in an atmosphere of “serious engagement, frankness and mutual respect,” said Mr. Ross.
The parties continued to deepen the discussion on their respective proposals, he added, while noting that each party “continued to reject the proposal of the other as the sole basis for future negotiations, while reiterating their willingness to work together to reach a solution.”
They also deepened their discussion on demining, natural resources and environment, without prejudice to the definitive status of the territory, and welcomed the progress accomplished on these topics.
Delegations from the neighbouring states, Algeria and Mauritania, were also present during certain sessions of the three-day talks.