UN renews calls for negotiations on Western Sahara
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Morocco and the Polisario Front on Wednesday (October 18th) to resume peace talks on their long-standing conflict in Western Sahara and arrive at a lasting solution. He also said he would recommend to the Security Council to approve a six-month extension of the UN peacekeeping mission in the disputed territory until April 2007.
Annan noted the present situation in the Western Sahara is very fragile and he insisted that both sides leave behind any preconditions, namely Morocco's demand that its sovereignty over Western Sahara be recognised and the Polisario Front's demand that a referendum take place with independence as an option. He pointed out that both parties are fully capable of resolving the issue at a negotiations table and suggested neighbouring Algeria and Mauritania be invited to participate in any peace talks.
The Security Council is starting consultations on the Western Sahara issue next week and is expected to adopt a resolution on October 31st. (UN News Center, MAP, L'economiste, Reuters, Independent Online)
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