Morocco, Polisario end W.Sahara talks with no accord

UNITED NATIONS- Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement failed to narrow their differences Friday after two days of informal talks on the disputed Western Sahara in suburban New York, a UN statement said.
Christopher Ross, UN chief Ban Ki-moon's personal envoy for the Western Sahara, said in a statement at the end of the talks that "neither party had accepted the proposal of the other as the sole basis of future negotiations."

Christopher Ross (left) with UN ambassador to Morocco Mohamed Loulichkli
Christopher Ross (left) with UN ambassador to Morocco Mohamed Loulichkli
He said the two sides however reiterated their commitment "to continue their negotiations as soon as possible" and added that, to that end, he planned to travel to the region for further consultations with the parties and other stakeholders.
The closed-door meeting at the IBM Learning Center in the hamlet of Armonk was modeled on a similar informal session held in Austria last August. It aimed to clear the way for a fifth round of formal talks between the parties.
Four previous rounds held in the New York suburb of Manhasset since June 2007 have failed to resolve the dispute over the phosphate-rich territory annexed by Morocco in 1975 after colonial power Spain withdrew.
Morocco's annexation of the territory sparked a war between its forces and Algerian-backed Polisario guerrillas. The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in 1991 but the UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara's future have since made no headway.
Rabat has pledged to grant Western Sahara widespread autonomy but rules out independence.
The Polisario Front, with the support of Algiers, wants a referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options.

Friday, February 12th 2010

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