UN chief: ‘in-depth discussions’

UN chief says talks over Sahara gave room for 'in-depth discussions'

New York (United Nations), Aug. 15 – Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon said on Tuesday that the second round of talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front over the control of the Sahara gave room for "good and in-depth discussions."

    "Although there was no visible progress during these negotiations, the two parties have had good, in-depth discussions" during the two-day negotiations that took place on August 10-11 in Manhasset, outskirts of  New York, Mr. Ban said at a press briefing at the U.N. headquarters.

    "What is important at this stage, he added, is that the two parties agreed to continue dialog."

    Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario separatists are disputing the control of The Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was ceded to Morocco in 1975 under the Madrid Accord.

    The first round of negotiations was held on June 18-19 in the same venue in application of a U.N. Security Council resolution (1754)  urging the two parties to hold “direct negotiations” “without preconditions in good faith.”

    “I will continue to encourage the parties concerned to pursue dialog,” the U.N. chief pledged adding that his Personal Envoy (Peter Van Walsum) will continue playing his role of facilitator.

    The latest round of talks wrapped up with the parties agreeing that the status quo is unacceptable and the process of negotiations will continue, Mr. Walsum said on Saturday.

    During these two rounds, Morocco presented a proposal to grant autonomy to its Southern Provinces – the Sahara- an initiative that was described as "serious and credible" by the five-member countries of the Security Council, and backed by other influential capitals.

    The two rounds of negotiations were attended by representatives from neighboring Algeria and Mauritania, who were consulted separately during the talks.