UK Govt encourages ‘continued engagement’

FCO Spokesman: UK Govt encourages 'continued engagement' of parties to Sahara issue

London, Aug. 15 – The British government encourages the "continued engagement" of the parties to the Sahara conflict, opposing Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario separatist movment, to resume negotiations.

    "We encourage the continued engagement of the parties in the negotitions in accordance with the United nations Security Council's resolution 1754," Spokesman of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told MAP on Wednesday.
    Morocco and the Polisario separatists are disputing the control of The Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was ceded to Morocco in 1975 under the Madrid Accords.

    The two parties held two rounds of negotiations in Manhasset, outskirts of New York (June 18-19 and August 10-11), under the auspices of the United Nations and in accordance with UNSC’s resolution of April 30, 2007, which called upon the parties to "enter into negotiations in good faith and without preconditions."

    During these two rounds, Morocco presented its autonomy proposal that was described as "serious and credible" by the five member countries of the Security Council and backed by other influential capitals.

    "The UK welcomes participation by all parties in the 2nd round of negotiations," he added, stressing that "the UK continues to fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary General and his personal envoy, Peter Van Walsum, to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution."

    The United States said, on Monday, it was "pleased" that Morocco and the Polisario met again in attempt to reach a final solution to the 32-year-old dispute, insisting that a "meaningful autonomy is promising and realistic way forward."

    "We understand that both parties have agreed to further negotiations. We welcome this development, and urge both to commit to a full discussion of the issues in the next round of talks," said U.S. Department spokesman M. Sean McCormack.

    As to the UNSG Ban Ki-Moon, he noted that that the second round of talks over the control of the Sahara gave room for "good and in-depth discussions," noting that "what is important at this stage is that the two parties agreed to continue dialog."