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Morocco, Polisario amenable to new Western Sahara talks December 29, 2009

Posted by saharanews in Uncategorized.

Morocco and the Polisario Front are prepared to participate in a new round of UN-brokered talks on the fate of the Western Sahara.

“Morocco reiterates its willingness to co-operate with [UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon] and [UN Western Sahara Envoy Christopher Ross] in implementing the relevant Security Council resolutions pertaining to … intensive and substantive negotiations on the basis of reality and agreement”, Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi-Fihri said at a December 23rd parliamentary session.

That same day, Polisario leader Mohamed Abdelaziz told wakteldjazair.com, “We are prepared to take part in the negotiations proposed by the UN, the framework of which has been clearly set; that is, direct negotiations, with no preset conditions, aimed at finding a just solution that ensures the right of self-determination to the Saharan people.”

Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, said in a December 22nd press conference in New York that Ross was planning a second meeting for informal negotiations early next year.

Both Morocco and the Polisario outlined their concerns about the proposed talks.

Fassi-Fihri told Moroccan parliamentarians that the talks must “take into consideration the efforts exerted by our country, after submitting our proposal, which is a milestone on the road of the UN handling of our legitimate cause, in order to arrive at a final political solution, that agrees with our constant principles and pillars of sovereignty”.

The minister said that he and Ban Ki-moon had spoken on December 10th about how to launch the new round of talks. The negotiations would “underscore Morocco’s commitment to the option of political negotiations as the best means of resolving the conflict, as well as the need for the UN to act to push negotiations out of their stalemate and create the right atmosphere for the fifth series [of talks]”, Fassi-Fihri added.

Meanwhile, Abdelaziz said a “free, just and transparent referendum is the only democratic solution that enables the people of the Sahara to make a choice”.

“That is the core of the Sahara proposal submitted in 2007, which is aligned with international laws and legitimacy, on the one hand, and the strategic, economic and security interests of Morocco, on the other hand, should the Saharan people opt for independence,” the Polisario leader added.

Moreover, he said, while the Polisario “has repeatedly announced that it is willing to pursue direct negotiations, and stressed the need to create the right conditions for that”, Morocco was “not willing to realize those conditions, since it is persisting in its grave violations of human rights in the Western Sahara and the south of Morocco”.

Fassi-Fihri denied Abdelaziz’ accusations that Morocco has been cracking down on the Saharan people, saying, “As the official diplomatic moves of the enemies of Morocco’s territorial integrity have run out of steam within the UN and elsewhere, and as demands for recognising that illusory existence have died out, the strategy of the enemies is now focused on cheap exploitation of what they call violations of human rights in the southern territories.”

Yet even as the diplomatic sparring between the two sides continues, other countries are adding their voce to the calls for renewed talks.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on December 18th that she seconded Ban Ki-moon’s call for a fifth round of direct negotiations as soon as possible, and that she supports Ross’ efforts to resolve the Western Sahara issue.

In a statement released on December 17th, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his country hoped to see all parties back at the table as soon as possible so as to find an “acceptable, just and final political solution to the problem”.

The Spanish government shares the concerns of the international community concerning meeting all the conditions for holding new rounds of talks, Zapatero added.

Last August, an informal meeting was held in Austria to prepare for the fifth round of negotiations. The meeting included Algeria and Mauritania, as well as representatives of Morocco and the Polisario Front.




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